Lisandro Martinez produced a typically measured response when asked about Cristiano Ronaldo storming down the tunnel minutes before the end of Manchester United‘s 2-0 win over Tottenham.
He followed his manager Erik ten Hag’s lead in opting against speaking about the situation in great detail and instead played it down.
“I didn’t see anything,” explained the centre-back. “I don’t know. I only enjoy with the people, we won, and that’s important.”
But Martinez’s seemingly innocuous comment that he didn’t see what was going on because he was ‘enjoying the win with those present’ pretty much sums up the Ronaldo situation.
Ronaldo is no longer present in this Man United team and even less so in the club’s recent success.
His last start for the Red Devils in the Premier League came in the 4-0 hammering by Brentford. Since then he’s largely watched from the bench as United beat Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.
Ronaldo has been limited to Europa League appearances – the tournament he was trying to escape at the start of the season – and is no longer in Ten Hag’s plans.
In the immediate aftermath of Ronaldo storming down the tunnel, Ten Hag promised to speak to the forward on the training ground on Thursday, telling the press: “I’ve seen him. I didn’t speak to him after. I’ll deal with that tomorrow.”
But the Dutchman knows as well as everyone that Ronaldo’s time at United is quickly petering out and the former Real Madrid star’s decision to move the attention away from the win over Tottenham and towards his sudden exit underlines this.
Alan Shearer was among the pundits who discussed Ten Hag leaving Ronaldo out in recent weeks and suggested the manager is getting his tactics right.
“I understand his [Ronaldo’s] frustration that he’s not been able to get on the pitch but if you look at the bigger picture his team have put in a really good performance tonight and the manager had a big call to make in leaving him out but it’s turned out to be the right decision because they’ve done everything right,” he said on Amazon Video.
“It’s a difficult situation because, for him [Ten Hag], we’re talking about the best player in the world, maybe the best player we’ve ever seen, so he’s under pressure from that point of view. But it does make things difficult for the manager.”