Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was not interested in revisiting the drama around Cristiano Ronaldo after the striker completed his move to Al Nassr.
The 37-year-old left United in November when the two parties agreed to terminate his contract following a very public disintegration in their relationship that began at the end of last season.
Ronaldo did not go on United’s pre-season tour owing to personal reasons, a situation accompanied by widespread reports of the Portugal great wanting to leave.
When Ronaldo did eventually report to pre-season training, he and several team-mates left Old Trafford before the end of the friendly with Rayo Vallecano, conduct Ten Hag described as “unacceptable” from all involved.
Ronaldo was then dropped from the squad entirely for the October clash with Chelsea after he refused to come on as a late substitute against Tottenham, but the final straw came a few weeks later when he took part in a remarkable interview with Piers Morgan, taking the opportunity to publicly criticise the club and Ten Hag.
That unsurprisingly led to his contract termination and Ronaldo finally signed a reported two-and-a-half-year deal with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr on Friday, but Ten Hag simply refused to talk about his former player after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Wolves.
“I don’t talk about the past, let’s talk about the future,” Ten Hag told reporters.
“We made a good step today. First time we are in the top four, but it means nothing because it is a long way to go.
“We have to live from game to game, get in the position to win something.”
Ronaldo may have been the first to draw the wrath of Ten Hag at United this season, though he was certainly not the last.
Finishing 2022 on a high note||
— Manchester United (@ManUtd)
Marcus Rashford found himself benched for the trip to Molineux after missing the start of a team meeting due to oversleeping.
The England forward came on for the second half and scored United’s winning goal, with the narrative ultimately reflecting quite well on both Ten Hag and Rashford, the former for his decisive leadership, and the latter for his response.
United defender Luke Shaw was keen to salute the manager’s commitment to discipline, suggesting it was a departure from some of his predecessors.
“At a top club like this, it has to be like that,” he told BT Sport. “I think that people can’t do whatever they want and maybe that’s been part of the problem in the past, with people getting away with silly little things.
“The manager takes all of that into consideration. Like you’ve seen today, if you’re not keeping the standards high then you won’t play.”
United’s victory ensured they will end 2022 fourth in the Premier League, just two points behind Newcastle United, after climbing above Tottenham.