Fans were questioning the logic of Erik ten Hag after leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for the entirety of his side's 6-3 loss to Man City at the Etihad Stadium.
However, during the post-match press-conference, ten Hag gave a stunning reason as to why he did not bring on Ronaldo: "I wouldn't bring him in out of respect for Cristiano, for his big career."
It is a remarkable admission from the manager, as there is no doubt Ronaldo would want to have played, and bringing him on late in the game would not have tarnished his reputation in the slightest, given that the game was over as a contest by half-time.
Ten Hag And Ronaldo Saga Continues
Erik ten Hag chose not to bring on Cristiano Ronaldo to avoid humiliating him. 😳 pic.twitter.com/hV8A9fa9Gx
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 2, 2022
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag says his side 'lacked belief' during their 6-3 defeat to Man City 🔴⤵️ pic.twitter.com/hzflToeBIv
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 2, 2022
"It was a lack of belief. I'm surprised why we didn't bring that on the pitch," said ten Hag to Sky Sports after the loss. "I have seen a different team, a different spirit and a different fight. We didn't have convincement. We were not brave in possession.
"It is always difficult to find out. The players know they can do better. If you don't fight then you have a problem against a team like Manchester City.
"This is definitely different [to Brentford]. We didn't run there. We wanted to today but didn't follow the principles. It was a lack of belief. I will show the team that we could have been front-footed. We win the ball then give it away for the first goal. We take wrong decisions in the transition afterwards. We don't follow the rules so we are undisciplined. It cannot happen. It is unacceptable.
"It is a process. It is one game. Maybe against other teams the problems would not come but against Manchester City they will. I want to change the head and the attitude from the team. There was a reaction in the second half. We were more brave and scored three goals. Only from mistakes you learn."