Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen felt there was “no reason” why Cristiano Ronaldo should be starting games on the bench.
The 36-year-old was a surprise exclusion from Michael Carrick’s starting line-up against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner came on for United’s goalscorer Jadon Sancho in the 64th minute when the Reds were leading 1-0.
Thomas Tuchel’s side equalised five minutes later through a Jorginho penalty after a foul by Aaron Wan-Bissaka on Thiago Silva.
With 10 goals in all competitions, United’s number seven is the club’s outright top goalscorer and is six clear of Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Meulensteen, who worked with Ronaldo under Sir Alex Ferguson, said: “You look at how important he has been for United so far, you take his goals away and the situation would be far more grim.
“Michael Carrick in his interview said he had a good chat with Ronaldo, but I’m sure Ronaldo wouldn’t have agreed with it because he always wants to play. That’s him.
“He always wants to be important to the team and there’s no reason to leave him out physically.
“I would have seen no reason for him to not start (against Chelsea).”
Speaking before the clash against the league leaders and his decision to drop Ronaldo, Carrick said: “A few tweaks and changes to freshen things up. Cristiano Ronaldo is your standout name [to be on the bench].
“I have had a good chat with Cristiano and he was great.”
With Ralf Rangnick now confirmed as the club’s interim manager until the end of the season, Ronaldo faces an anxious wait to see if he fits into the German coach’s plans.
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