EPL

'It doesn't add up to me' – Keane baffled by Ronaldo absence for Manchester derby

By Sports Desk March 06, 2022

Roy Keane has questioned why Cristiano Ronaldo was omitted from Manchester United's squad for Sunday's derby showdown with Manchester City.

Ronaldo leads the scoring charts for United this term with 15 goals across all competitions, but he played no part against Premier League leaders City at the Etihad Stadium.

Ralf Rangnick put the Portugal international's absence for the contest down to a hip flexor injury that kept him out of training on Friday.

But former United midfielder Keane suggested there may be other reasons behind the five-time Ballon d'Or winner being left out by Rangnick for such an important game.

"There seems to be more to the Ronaldo story when a manager comes out and talks about a hip flexor... I don't get it," Keane told Sky Sports ahead of the match. 

"We talk about Ronaldo being a machine and very rarely getting injured but every now and again he comes out with that... a hip flexor? It doesn't add up to me.

"It's a surprise to hear Ronaldo has a hip injury but United have pace, quality. They still have important players and they still have to come out and play with pride."

Ronaldo had played in 30 of United's 37 games this term prior to the City game, a tally bettered only by Jadon Sancho (31), David de Gea (35) and Bruno Fernandes (36).

United had won 11 of the 20 Premier League games Ronaldo had featured in before Sunday, compared to two wins from the seven games he has not played a part in.

Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane also missed the City match after testing positive for coronavirus, while Edinson Cavani failed to recover from injury in time.

Related items

  • Outgoing Brighton boss De Zerbi not walking into new job Outgoing Brighton boss De Zerbi not walking into new job

    Roberto De Zerbi insisted he does not have another job lined up after overseeing his final game as Brighton and Hove Albion boss on Sunday.

    One day after surprisingly announcing De Zerbi's departure, Brighton ended their Premier League campaign with a 2-0 home loss to Manchester United.

    That meant they slipped below rivals Crystal Palace to finish 11th in the table, their first bottom-half placing since finishing 16th in 2020-21.

    De Zerbi has been linked with several big clubs since leading Brighton to European qualification last season, with Bayern Munich, Milan and Napoli touted as possible landing spots for the former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk coach.

    However, De Zerbi says he has not reached an agreement with any other club, telling reporters: "There isn't any club – no-one offered me anything. At the moment, nothing.

    "I hope to work in the Premier League again. I don't know where or when, but it was an honour to work in the Premier League."

    Sunday's defeat was De Zerbi's 70th Premier League game in charge of Brighton, with his top-flight win percentage of 37 per cent (26/70) the highest of any boss in the Seagulls' history.

    Battling a lengthy injury list for much of 2023-24, Brighton made a total of 143 changes to their starting lineup throughout the course of the campaign, with only Manchester City in 2019-20 (144) ever making more in a single Premier League season.

    Asked by BBC Match of the Day if there was a particular reason for his exit, the Italian added: "We didn't find the agreement to move on. I want to keep my way. 

    "I know very well what I want to do and I know I am a coach and I have to accept the policies of the club.

    "They gave me an incredible chance. They gave me the possibility to know incredible people, to play and to work in the Premier League, to play in the Europa League. They gave me the opportunity to know this club, this city, these fans and that I cannot forget."

    Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna and Nice coach Francesco Farioli have both been tipped as possible contenders to replace De Zerbi, with Brighton having a reputation for excellent succession planning under owner Tony Bloom.

    Asked about the search for a replacement on Sunday, Bloom said: "We always try and have a plan. We have got a plan. We now need to execute that plan."

  • Howe taking plenty of positives despite frustrating Newcastle campaign Howe taking plenty of positives despite frustrating Newcastle campaign

    Eddie Howe was keen to look at the positives after Newcastle United secured seventh place in the Premier League on Sunday.

    Alexander Isak and Bruno Guimaraes were among the goalscorers as Newcastle won 4-2 at Brentford to finish their Premier League campaign.

    The victory ensured a seventh-place finish, and a Manchester City victory over Manchester United in next Saturday's FA Cup final will confirm Newcastle's place in next season's Europa Conference League.

    While this season did not quite live up to the heroics of last term, which saw the Magpies finish in the Champions League spots, Howe still feels it has been a successful campaign.

    "It summed up our season," Howe told BBC Sport. "We weren't totally secure at the back, but great credit to the players. They've done their job - now we wait and see.

    "We anticipated after losing against Manchester United that our control of the [European] situation had gone. It's never a nice situation, but whatever happens, happens.

    "We have issues to solve defensively. If we can do that, next season could be another season of really strong performances. This was a season that could have been better, but a good season overall.

    "We're a really united club. I think we're still moving forward, so there's a lot to be positive about."

  • Postecoglou will not settle until Tottenham hit his 'lofty ambitions' Postecoglou will not settle until Tottenham hit his 'lofty ambitions'

    Ange Postecoglou warned Tottenham he will not settle until the club hits the "lofty ambitions" targeted in his mind.

    Spurs were 3-0 victors over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday, ending their Premier League season with a convincing win to finish fifth in the table.

    Postecoglou voiced his frustrations after Tuesday's 2-0 defeat to Manchester City ended their hopes of Champions League football next term.

    The Spurs head coach was far more relaxed after his side performed well in Sheffield, with Dejan Kulusevski twice on target, along with a goal for Pedro Porro against the relegated Blades.

    Yet Postecoglou insisted his ambitions remain high as the Australian attempts to take Tottenham to the next level.

    "Contrary to my general demeanour, I have loved every minute of it," former Celtic boss Postecoglou said of his first season in charge of Tottenham.

    "It is a great challenge in the Premier League and taking over a big club that didn't have a great year last year. You understand it is not going to run smoothly, but I have enjoyed the whole season.

    "I have got some lofty ambitions for the football club and until we reach that point I am not going to be smiling too much.

    "As I said, all any manager wants is maximum effort and I have got that from everyone involved. I have enjoyed it and looking forward to pushing on from here."

    Asked to summarise his first campaign in England's top league, Postecoglou continued: "It's been good, it's been eventful, it's had a bit of everything.

    "I am obviously not delighted with the way we finished the season but in fairness to the players and staff we have been in the top five all season, in a year where there was a fair bit of upheaval.

    "We finished eighth last year, player turnover, different football, different way of training, it is not easy to maintain a level when you are trying to do that.

    "Even in our tough periods this year we have still been competitive for the most part."

    Kulusevski scored his seventh and eighth Premier League goals of the season (36 outings), more than he managed in his first two league campaigns with Tottenham combined (seven across 48 games).

    Only in the 2019-20 season with Parma has the Sweden winger scored more times in a league season (10 in Serie A), and Postecoglou hailed Kulusevski's returns.

    He added: "I thought Deki was good. He's worked awfully hard this year without a lot of reward in the front third.

    "We thought playing him through middle today would help us with his mobility and ability to run in behind. He did well.

    "He always works hard but it's that sort of final third where we need him to get rewards and he got them today so he did well."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.