Soccer News: ‘Ronaldo needs to stay fresh’ – Manchester United boss Ten Hag defends striker replacement decision

    Erik ten Hag defended his decision to replace Cristiano Ronaldo during the 0-0 draw between Manchester United and Newcastle United on Sunday, insisting he wants to keep the striker fresh for a busy schedule.

    Ronaldo, who started in the Premier League for the first time since 13 August, managed just one shot before being knocked out in the 72nd minute by Marcus Rashford.

    The Portuguese superstar looked visibly annoyed as he walked off the pitch and continued to shake his head in the dugout as United struggled to break Eddie Howe’s team.

    United will play in the Premier League against Tottenham and Chelsea next week, and Ten Hag said Ronaldo was removed to keep him for those games.

    “We have to recover as we have four games in 10 days and especially for the strikers, I want them to be fresh,” Ten Hag said.

    “I want them all to be fresh, we have to change due to some issues we have.

    “[Anthony] Martial is currently unavailable, then Rashi [Rashford] He was not well, so he did not have the strength for the whole game.

    “We had to plan for a four-game cover because we want to win or at least get a score in all four games.”

    The result was United’s 76th goalless draw in the Premier League, 31 of which have come since the retirement of Alex Ferguson in 2013 (41 per cent), more than any team in the competition since the start of the 2013-14 season.

    Despite the disappointing result, Ten Hag was satisfied with his team’s performance and believes they deserved all three points.

    “I am disappointed with the result, but pleased with the performance,” added the Dutchman.

    “Many elements of the team, the style of play, we have transferred to the field. We have seen it.

    “The pressure throughout the game was good. Possession was better in the second half. We have improved after the break.

    “Then you saw that we significantly dominated this game in the second half and also at the end physically, again mentally as we kept going.

    “You saw the problems they had and they are one of the best physical teams in the league. Everyone had cramps and we didn’t because we let them run, because we had good ball possession and our pressing was good.”

    As a result, the Red Devils finished fifth in the Premier League, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and still one point ahead of Newcastle.

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