Football News

Why did Cristiano Ronaldo miss the Manchester Derby? Ralf Rangnick explains why he didn’t play

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 19:52, 6 March 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo was absent from the matchday squad as Manchester United got smashed 4-1 by Manchester City.

The first-half was an even contest where United looked very bright on the break without having to carry the 37 year-old Ronaldo, and they even scored a stupendous goal with the ball flowing from back-to-front and ending with a great finish from Jadon Sancho albeit they went into the break 2-1 down.

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After half-time, however, Manchester City upped the tempo and then put the game in a chokehold, scoring twice more and missing many other chances besides that. The game ended 4-1 and Ronaldo may even be glad to have missed it.


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Prior to the game, Rangnick said that; “Cristiano had some problems with his hip flexor on Friday and since then didn’t play,” while also acknowledging that Edinson Cavani didn’t feel well enough to play.

This claim turned into wild speculation that Ronaldo was fit and Rangnick had been dropped for tactical reasons. But after the match the German coach reiterated that he wanted to play both veteran forwards and was prevented by injury.

“I don’t know,” said Rangnick when he was asked about a timeframe for Ronaldo and Cavani’s return. “I was hoping to have them available for this game but they weren’t so, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.”

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“Whatever goes on behind the scenes is completely irrelevant to me,” said Scott McTominay in his post-match press conference, not even getting involved in the discussion around Ronaldo. “You’ve just got to concentrate on your own game, you can get too distracted by other things that are going on at the football club.”


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The drama had actually begun the night before the game as rumours swirled that Ronaldo had been left out of the matchday squad for reason beyond injury. Things only intensified on Sunday morning when Ronaldo’s sister, Katia dos Santos Aveiro, liked a fan post on Instagram claiming the Portuguese striker had been dropped: “for tactical reasons, to defend himself more in the game.”

Roy Keane, for his part, didn’t believe the excuse of a hip flexor injury either. “There seems to be something more with the Ronaldo situation, the manager coming out talking about something about his hip flexor but the man is a machine and is rarely injured,” the Irishman said; “but every now and again he comes out with that about his hip flexor. It doesn’t add up to me.”

Gary Neville added that, tactically he “thought it suited United having the younger, quicker ones up-front.” So while the Red Devils did lose the game, maybe their future need not involve these two veteran superstars and their Schrödinger’s injuries.

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