Manchester United legend Roy Keane was left surprised by Michael Carrick’s decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo for the trip to Premier League leaders Chelsea on Sunday.
But he was proved wrong as the Red Devils picked up a well-earned point in west London. Ronaldo was named among the substitutes as Carrick rang the changes in what will likely be his final match in caretaker charge.
United are set to appoint Ralf Rangnick on an interim basis in the coming days.
Ronaldo returned to United in the summer from Juventus.
The Portugal superstar has been particularly influential in the Champions League, scoring in each of United’s five group stage matches.
But a run of one goal in seven league matches saw him left out at Old Trafford.
Ahead of the 1-1 draw at Chelsea, Keane said Ronaldo had rejoined United to play in matches of this calibre and questioned Carrick’s selection.
“I’m surprised. I think obviously Ronaldo is one of the great players,” Keane said on Sky Sports.
“The manager Carrick obviously said there he’s got a plan but he said [Ronaldo] took it great – Ronaldo’s come back to United to play in these games.
“He’s a big player, for the big occasions. I think his stats against Chelsea aren’t great but I am surprised by the decision to leave him out.”
But United proved they can perform without Ronaldo. They were 1-0 up when the former Real Madrid star came off the bench in the second half.
Carrick was asked ahead of kick-off for his reasoning behind dropping Ronaldo.
The former midfielder said Ronaldo had reacted positively to the decision.
Carrick said: “A few tweaks from the other night freshen things up and Cristiano is the stand-out name but game plan, different ideas.
“I’ve had a good chat with him and he was great so we’ve decided to go like that today so really looking forward to the game.
“It’s a decision to just pick a team to be honest, no need for more drama than that.
“All the boys have been terrific, Cristiano included, supporting the boys and ready to come on if and when he’s needed and hopefully to win the game like he did in midweek.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher reckons the impending appointment of Rangnick will be a good move from United.
“I think the appointment of who it looks like they’re going to bring in is a positive step in terms of how he wants the football played,” Carragher said.
“Now the top teams all play that way the way this guy wants his teams to play going back 20 years since he started coaching. So I think it’s positive.”