Manchester United interim boss Michael Carrick has explained his decision to bench Cristiano Ronaldo for the Premier League clash against Chelsea. Carrick made four changes from Tuesday’s Champions League victory over Villarreal for his first Premier League match as temporary manager.
England international Marcus Rashford came in for the benched Ronaldo while Bruno Fernandes is restored to the line-up in replace of Anthony Martial as Manchester United visit Stamford Bridge.
Donny van de Beek, who scored his first Premier League goal in last weekend’s defeat to Watford, returns to the bench with Nemanja Matic, Fred and Scott McTominay starting.
Eric Bailly was also brought into defence for the suspended Harry Maguire, who was sent off at Vicarage Road in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s final match as manager.
It was only the second time this season that Ronaldo has been named on the bench for a Premier League or Champions League match, the first occasion taking place last month for the 1-1 draw at home to Everton.
Carrick said: “A few tweaks and changes to freshen things up. Anthony [Martial] and Donny [van de Beek] too and Cristiano Ronaldo is your standout name [to be on the bench].
“I have had a good chat with Cristiano and he was great.
“It is a decision to pick a team, we don’t need any more drama than that. Everyone who has come out of the team has been terrific around the place – including Cristiano – and have been supporting the boys.”
Manchester United face Premier League leaders Chelsea sitting 10th in the table, 12 points behind Thomas Tuchel’s Blues.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo has scored 15 goals in 19 matches this season but former England defender Stephen Warnock has backed Carrick’s decision to leave the Portugal legend out.
“I think it’s the right call [to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench]”, he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“You understand what Ronaldo’s about and the sort of player he is, but he’s not going to press, he’s going to play a bit-part role in the game and maybe score you a goal on the counter.
“I’m sure the plan will be to keep it tight for 60/70 minutes and then introduce Ronaldo to the game to hope he can get that goal.”
Tuchel, meanwhile, has made three changes from Chelsea’s brilliant victory over Juventus in the Champions League, with Marcos Alonso and Ruben Loftus-Cheek replacing the injured Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kante and Timo Werner starting up front.
- A Metro report