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Ten Hag: “Cristiano? No one can miss a pre-season...”

The United manager acknowledged that Cristiano’s absence in the pre-season took its toll on him. He also reported that the Portuguese ace will not accept the FA sanction.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Liverpool - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - August 22, 2022 Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo with manager Erik ten Hag before coming on as a substitute REUTERS/Phil Noble EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications.  Please contact your account representative for further details.

Manchester United faces its third match of the season in the Europa League, where it will host Omonia at 21:00 (Spanish time), but the spotlight in the previous press conference was directed in another direction. The English Football Association (FA) could punish Cristiano Ronaldo for ‘inappropriate conduct’ after breaking an Everton fan’s mobile last season pass.

But the coach of the 'red devils', Erik ten Hag, has reported that Cristiano "is not going to accept the punishment". Of course, it has not been the only question related to the Portuguese star, who is seconded by Ten Hag (“I want to support him in the best possible way”, the coach has confessed), but who has taken its toll on his absence in the first two weeks of training: "It has been proven, once again, that no one can miss a preseason".

As for the team’s European campaign, the boss said that he has told his players that it is important to finish top of Group E: “Our aim is always to win every game - if we want to win, we have to win them all,” he told reporters.

Martial: “I have spoken to him several times about it [his injuries], I am disappointed for him. It’s disappointing for him and for the team. Of course, I want every player to be available because I know we need them - especially with all the games we have coming up now. Today [Martial has not trained], we will see how he evolves for Sunday. Harry [Maguire] is out. And longer term Donny van de Beek and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.”

Rotations: “All the clubs have the same problem. But we have a squad to cover that. We have two players for every position. But we will have injuries, suspensions... you have to deal with that as a squad. We’ll be going all out for the victory. The first game is always the most important, it’s Europe, it’s tough, we want to be number 1 in the group so we have to win this game”.

Eriksen’s role and rest time: “We have to manage the playing time of all the players, that’s what I do all the time. And that’s why we have a squad with two players for each position - with depth, with quality players so if we have to rotate, if we have injuries or someone loses form, we can replace players. We have different options and that’s good”.

The possible FA sanction against Cristiano: “You mean last year? We will talk about it and he will not accept it.”

More on Cristiano: “I want to support him as best I can. We have certain demands on the players - what we expect from them in certain positions on the pitch. As with the rest of the team, I want to get the best out of him - that goes for all of the players. Obviously, he’s in better shape now and I’m happy with that, so he can contribute more to the team which I am sure he will. At the start, it was definitely the case [lack of physical form], it has been proven once again, nobody can miss a pre-season - because you’re risking after-effects”.