The Portuguese international who has started just one Premier League game this season, saw no game time at the Etihad Stadium as the Red Devils endured a humbling afternoon at the hands of their arch rivals.
United found themselves four goals down at half-time, leading many Red Devils supporters to head for the exits gates, Ten Hag decided that it was not fair to throw a five-time Ballon d’Or winner under the spotlight.
Asked why he opted to leave an all-time great among those on the bench, Ten Hag told reporters afterwards: “I wouldn’t bring him in out of respect for Cristiano and for his big career. The other thing was the advantage, I could bring Anthony Martial as he needs the minutes, but I don’t want to point it out like that.”
However, Martial did score two late consolation goals for United following his introduction, but the Red Devils struggled all through to contain City and ultimately came unstuck as Erling Haaland and Phil Foden both recorded hat-tricks for the hosts.
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