Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is “looking to the future” rather than dwelling on the past after drawing a line under the Cristiano Ronaldo saga.
Ronaldo’s United contract was terminated by mutual consent last month following an explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he said he felt “betrayed” by the club.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also said he had “no respect” for Ten Hag, having been left frustrated by playing a bit-part role under the Dutchman this season.
Commenting on Ronaldo’s tumultuous exit for the first time, Ten Hag made clear he wants to move on and focus only on the players in his squad.
“He’s gone and it’s the past,” he told MUTV during United’s warm-weather training camp in Spain. “We are now looking forward and we’re looking to the future.”
Ronaldo top-scored for United with 24 goals in all competitions last season, but he had been restricted to just four starts in United’s opening 14 Premier League games this term.
United made a slow start to Ten Hag’s first season in charge, but they have since recovered to move within three points of the top four with a game in hand.
“When you change things in organisation and change the way of playing, that takes time,” said Ten Hag, who won three Eredivisie titles in five years with Ajax.
“In top-level football, you never get time. Opponents they want to kill you and that happened. We had to quickly adapt and I think our squad did terrific.
“The mentality changed and I think our way of playing changed during the season, the style, and I think we are growing and we have to keep the process going.”
United beat Fulham 2-1 in their final outing prior to the five-week break for the World Cup, with their next competitive fixture an EFL Cup last-16 tie with Burnley on December 21.
Fifteen United players have been taking part in the World Cup, with 12 still remaining, and Ten Hag wants them to hit the ground running once they return to club duty.
“We had a plan. We have prepared the players with what the plan is so there can’t be any confusion about what the programme is,” Ten Hag said.
“We make the players aware of the fact that, after you are out of the World Cup, you have to return to the club and the league immediately goes on.
“Our players are winners, and they are battling now for the World Cup and in the moment they are out – hopefully one is the winner – they have to deal with that.
“With the success they have, or the defeats, they have to deal with it and of course they have to be ready for another challenge.”