Erik ten Hag makes Ronaldo decision as he picks Man Utd front three for opener

Erik ten Hag has already settled on his front three for Manchester United’s opening game of the new Premier League season and it is bad news for Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Red Devils kick off their campaign with a home match against Brighton on Sunday afternoon, having been thumped 4-0 when they visited the south-coast club at the backend of last season.

United started their pre-season campaign in strong form, winning their first three matches against Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace, and racked up 11 goals in the process.

But they have failed to win their subsequent three friendlies, against Aston Villa, Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano, with Ronaldo making his long-awaited return in the final of those games.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had asked to leave the club earlier in the summer and was given permission to skip the majority of United’s pre-season training camp due to ‘family reasons’.

He finally returned to Carrington last week and started against Rayo Vallecano in a line-up mainly packed with youngsters and squad players, but he was withdrawn after just 45 minutes having appeared to have a heated pitch-side chat with Ten Hag and was seen leaving Old Trafford before the match had finished.

According to The Sun, Ronaldo has not done anywhere near enough to force his way into Ten Hag’s thinking for Sunday’s showdown with Brighton and will have to make do with a place on the bench.

The Dutchman has decided to stick with the front three that has served him so well in pre-season, with Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford all set to get the nod in attack.

Ten Hag feels Ronaldo is not yet up to speed given how much of pre-season he has missed, while the 37-year-old is not guaranteed to return to the starting XI anytime soon.

There are suggestions that Ten Hag’s decision will not be well received by Ronaldo, who still feels he should be picked to start despite asking to leave the club and playing just one single half of football during pre-season.

When he was told by interim boss Ralf Rangnick last season that he would only be an impact sub against Manchester City, he claimed to have an injury and flew to Portugal.

Ronaldo remains eager to leave United this summer despite being surprised by the lack of interest in him from other clubs, while the Red Devils are keen to keep him and feel he can still be a very valuable member of the squad.

While Ten Hag may have settled on his front three to face Brighton, he has plenty of other dilemmas particularly around whether to start new signings Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

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