Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick has warned Cristiano Ronaldo that the team has to come first after the forward’s reaction to being substituted against Brentford.
Ronaldo was withdrawn for the final 20 minutes of the win at the Brentford Community Stadium, with Harry Maguire replacing the forward as Rangnick sought to protect his team’s advantage.
The interim boss has been quick to play down the significance of Ronaldo’s reaction, after the 36-year-old made his frustration very clear, but questions continue to be asked in the aftermath of the incident.
He was asked about the matter once more in the lead-up to United’s Premier League match at home to West Ham United, and doubled down on his stance while dropping in a word of warning to one of his senior players.
“Well, I think we shouldn’t make too much of a fuss out of it,” Rangnick said, while reminding the player that his substitution was made with the goal of ensuring his team went away with all three points.
“I can only speak for myself and my coaching staff. I explained that to him during the game, we had a little conversation after we score the third goal. In fact, I told him the same as what i said in our press conference.
“The job of a football manager is to help the team win the game and it was clear from our experience at Villa Park that this time we have to do things better. We did it better and the only question was, who do we take off?”
He had earlier revealed he “never had any issue” with Ronaldo, telling BBC Sport : “I said, ‘Listen, Cristiano, you are 36 and in great shape, but when you are a head coach, you will see it through the glasses of a head coach.”
Rangnick compared the situation at Brentford to that away to Aston Villa the previous Saturday, when United surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.
“It is important to be able to react to what the game needs now, to what the team needs and we had exactly the same decision at Brentford as at Villa, 70 minutes played, 2-0 up against a team who does not give up,” he said.
“Of course, Cristiano is a prolific goalscorer and he’s a player that will always want to play and score goals. He was also asking why me ‘why didn’t you take off one of the younger players?’. The answer came five minutes later when one of the younger players scored the third goal.
“Maybe Cristiano could have also scored the third goal but football is not about maybe, it is about taking a decision in the right moment.”
Ronaldo had only just returned from injury for the Brentford game, having missed the draw at Villa Park, but he will be in contention to feature against West Ham.
The forward scored one of United’s goals as they won the reverse fixture against the Hammers, and another victory on Saturday will lift Rangnick’s side above their fourth-place opponents.
“I’m not dealing with what might happen in four or five months, that is not on top of my list,” Rangnick said ahead of the game.
“It’s about how we can win the game against West Ham, then the Cup against Middlesbrough and then Burnley, playing Southampton and Brighton at home, this is where my focus is.”