Gary Neville has urged Cristiano Ronaldo to publicly discuss his future at Manchester United because he feels the “messy” situation has caused Erik ten Hag, the team’s new manager, to become unduly distracted as the new season begins.
Ronaldo has asked to leave United and has only played in 45 minutes of games during the preseason due to family obligations that prevented him from joining the team on its summer tour.
Although Anthony Martial will miss Sunday’s match against Brighton due to injury, Ten Hag has refused to say whether Ronaldo will start in Martial’s place. Unless Ten Hag chooses a false nine, as he experimented with in preseason, the 37-year-old and Marcus Rashford are the only direct striker replacements for Martial.
Speaking on Friday Night Football, Neville said: “The Ronaldo situation is distracting. You saw Ten Hag in the press conference on Friday having to answer questions about it.
“The fact Anthony Martial has got injured and he is the only other centre forward, and he actually was going to leave the club six months ago.
“The fact they haven’t got Frenkie de Jong in, the fact you haven’t been supported in the way the other managers have and getting the signings early, I think it all means it’s a more difficult job for Ten Hag than it already was.”
“If Ronaldo is fit you start him, and I hope he stays,” Neville added.
“I’m a little bit disappointed in him because he’s letting the manager go into those press conferences. Cristiano Ronaldo is now a good age. He’s been the greatest player in the world along with Lionel Messi for the last 10 years. He’s got all the experience in the world.
“Would it be too much to ask for him to come out and do an interview to clear things up, tell us what he’s actually thinking and what actually is happening?
“Would that be too much to ask a senior player? Is he not going to do an interview for the next three weeks? Is he not going to do an interview on Sunday after the game?
“Obviously, Sky are going to ask for him on Sunday after the game. Is he going to come out, stand up, do the interview, and not let everyone else have to answer the questions for him?
“I think that would be something that would be a start.