MANCHESTER UNITED legend Roy Keane defended Cristiano Ronaldo after he was axed by Erik ten Hag for tonight’s clash at Chelsea.
Ronaldo, 37, refused to come on against Tottenham on Wednesday’s 2-0 victory and stormed down the tunnel at Old Trafford with injury time still to play before leaving the stadium entirely.
As a result, United boss Erik ten Hag didn’t include the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in the squad for the match against the Blues and ordered him to train by himself at Carrington.
Keane, though, insists Ronaldo’s attitude does not worry him as he claims others “have done a lot worse things” at United.
The footballer-turned-pundit believes this is just a case of the Portugal captain feeling “frustrated” but needs to take his punishment.
Keane told Sky Sports: “Well, obviously the manager has made a decision to leave him out.
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“He’s disappointed at Ronaldo [for] not wanting to go on in the 87th [or] 88th minute and the fact he walked down the tunnel. He’s obviously being punished for it.
“But I try to see as well from the player’s point of view, he’s obviously had enough and I think it’s been brewing over the last few weeks with Ronaldo.
“But I will sill try and defend him, I still think he’s a human being, he’s got flaws, he feels frustrated that he’s not been properly getting opportunities and he’s had enough.
“He’s walked down the tunnel, I think players have done a lot worse things at Man Utd. I think it happens, it’s human nature.
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“Everyone was talking after the game that they beat Spurs, it was a big win – best performance in years. Absolute rubbish, Spurs were terrible. Man Utd managed to beat Spurs as well last year at home when I think Ronaldo got a hat-trick.
“So he’s more than capable of getting on that pitch and making a difference. But he has to take his punishment, is there a way back for him? I’m not sure.
“I’d be more worried if Ronaldo was sitting on the bench every week laughing his head off and not caring. I think the guy cares.
“I’ve said it before, this game is full of bluffers and he’s certainly not one of them. I think he cares about the club, I think he wants to play, he needs to play. World class player, people saying he’s not the player he was 10 years ago. Of course he’s not.
“But he was the leading goalscorer last year for Man Utd. He went to Man Utd last year, to a bad Man Utd team – really bad team – [and] he was still leading goalscorer.”
Keane’s stance was similar to that of Rio Ferdinand, who claimed Ronaldo should be treated “differently” as he’s “special”.
Ronnie’s former team-mate said: “The way of treating him is different to everybody else. Communication. That’s probably the first time in his life where that’s not upheld by the manager.
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“I’m not saying he was right but there are special players sometimes in a squad that things work differently for.
“It’s important for the team to see that he is communicated with. He’s 37. He probably needs that more than ever.”
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