Ten Hag reveals where Cristiano Ronaldo stands in the Manchester United hierarchy
The confusion around Cristiano Ronaldo and his role at Manchester United continued to grow when he was handed the captaincy against Aston Villa.
The Portuguese star was known to want to leave the club in the summer but no move materialised, meaning head coach Erik ten Hag had to find a way to manage the situation.
The relationship appeared to be at the end of the road when Ronaldo walked down the tunnel against Tottenham before the full-time whistle, after refusing to come onto the pitch late in the game.
After being suspended briefly by the club, he came back into training and is starting games again, largely due to the many injuries United have in that area of the pitch.
Against Aston Villa at the weekend, though, Ronaldo started the game and was also named as the captain for what turned out to be a 3-1 defeat.
Why was Cristiano Ronaldo captain against Aston Villa?
“We have more leaders, but Harry [Maguire] was on the bench and Bruno [Fernandes] was suspended, so you take the player who has the leadership,” Ten Hag explained afterwards.
“The goalkeeper is often far away from the situations, especially in the opponent’s half, and we want to play in the opponents half.
“Casemiro is not speaking full English language yet, so then you come to Cristiano.
“He was doing really well in the last two games, I hope he keeps that process going.
“When you are captain and leader you have to set an example and that is what I expect from him.
“He is an important part of the squad, we are happy with him and now he has to take even more of the leader role.”
Tim Sherwood’s scepticism re Cristiano Ronaldo
Former Aston Villa coach Tim Sherwood hit back at these quotes on TalkSport, though.
“What basically he’s saying is he was fifth choice, isn’t he?” Sherwood said.
“Why he has to justify why he’s given Cristiano Ronaldo the armband, I just don’t know. Just keep your mouth shut.”