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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag explains Cristiano Ronaldo benching vs Brighton

Cristiano Ronaldo started on the bench for Manchester United vs Brighton.

Manchester United face off with Brighton in Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off.

It is Erik ten Hag’s first competitive game as Manchester United manager following his appointment in April.

United head into the game having lost Anthony Martial to injury. Martial returned to Old Trafford this summer following a loan spell with Sevilla and was expected to be sold after several years of underperforming in Manchester.

However, Ten Hag clearly saw something in the Frenchman and began to use him on a regular basis in pre-season. Martial was given a new lease of life under ETH and was expected to start 2022/23 as United’s main striker.

Unfortunately for United, though, Martial picked up an injury recently that has ruled him out of the Red Devils’ season opener vs Brighton.

As a result, it was expected that Cristiano Ronaldo would lead the line for Man United on Sunday after returning to action last weekend and declaring himself fit for this game.

When United’s matchday squad was released an hour before kick-off though, Ronaldo found himself on the bench as Ten Hag opted to play Bruno Fernandes in a false-nine role.

The Dutchman has since explained his decision to leave CR7 on the bench, pointing towards a lack of fitness: “Ronaldo is working really hard to get in the right fitness levels, it will take time. He started pre-season last week. It depends on how quick he is progressing.”

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Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.

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