Erik ten Hag has broken his silence on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United exit by saying ‘he’s gone and it’s the past’ before insisting the club are ‘looking to the future’. The United boss was speaking during a two-part interview while he and the squad are away at a winter training camp in Spain.

It was a short, yet telling response which helps put to bed a chaotic time at the club following Ronaldo’s bombshell interview with Piers Morgan where he declared he had no respect for the United boss. When asked by former footballer and MUTV presenter Danny Webber about the January transfer window and how he has managed the departure of Ronaldo, ten Hag replied: ‘He’s gone and it’s the past. We are now looking forward and we’re looking to the future.’

At the time Ronaldo accused Ten Hag and United executives of trying to force him out of the club, saying he has no respect for the Dutchman and feels ‘betrayed’. ‘I don’t have respect for him because he doesn’t show respect for me,’ said Ronaldo.

‘Some people, they don’t want me here not only the coach but the other two or three guys. Not only this year, but last year too. ‘Honestly, I shouldn’t say that. But listen, I don’t care. People should listen to the truth. Yes, I feel betrayed.’  

Ronaldo has been heavily linked with a move to Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr but he came out to deny these reports following Portugal’s 6-1 win in the World Cup Round of 16, for which Ronaldo was dropped in favour of hat-trick hero Goncalo Ramos. The Portuguese star went on to attack the state of the club, former managers and players before his contract was inevitably torn up, leaving him without a team going into the World Cup. 

‘No, that’s not true not true,’ he told reporters after the game.’ Reports had emerged on Monday that suggested the out-of-contract star was on the verge of agreeing a huge deal with Al Nassr that would’ve seen the five-time Ballon d’Or winner net close to €200million (£173m) per season. 

The Portuguese captain also made his own way to the dressing room following his side’s 6-1 demolition, having come on as a late substitute. Ten Hag’s men are currently in the Andalusian region of Spain, where they take on Cadiz tonight and Real Betis on Saturday before the Premier League returns. 

Ronaldo has fuelled more frustration since his Old Trafford departure, this time in his international manager Fernando Santos, who felt compelled to drop him for his side’s clash with Switzerland after the forward made a ‘shh’ gesture by bringing his finger to his lips when being taken off. 

The United boss went on to say later in the interview that he feels the club are heading the right way. ‘I have the feeling, we have the feeling that we are in the right direction but we also know that it’s still a lot of work to do for us here,’ he added.

Ten Hag was then asked on how he is preparing for the eventuality that some of his stars may come straight from a World Cup final to a League Cup tie with Burnley on December 21. He replied: ‘We had a plan, we have prepared the players with what the plan is so there can’t be any confusion about what the programme is. 

‘We make the players aware of the fact that, after you are out of the World Cup, you have to return to the club and the league immediately goes on. You have to be ready for that but I think our players are used to it. 

‘Our players are winners and they are battling now for the World Cup and in the moment they are out and hopefully one is the winner, but then they have to deal with that. ‘With the success they have, or the defeats, they have to deal with it and of course they have to be ready for another challenge.’

Throwing the gauntlet down, ten Hag told MUTV: ‘I think this is a great opportunity for them.Normally we don’t have this break and now we have this break.  ‘They can show themselves and they can challenge players who already play in the Premier League, so it’s fantastic for them.’

Ten Hag has already hinted that there could be more opportunities for youngsters to make their mark during the winter tour and challenge some of his star players while they are away at the World Cup.

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