Cristiano Ronaldo says “the heat of the moment” got to him in the incident that led to Manchester United dropping him for Saturday’s game at Chelsea.
Portugal forward left Old Trafford before the end of Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Tottenham – for which he was an unused substitute.
He wrote on Instagram on Thursday: “I’ve always tried to set an example myself for the youngsters that grew up in all the teams that I’ve represented.”
“That’s not always possible.” He added: “Sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us.”
“I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington [United’s training ground], support my teammates and be ready for everything in any given game.”
“Giving in to the pressure is not an option. It never was. This is Manchester United, and united we must stand. Soon we’ll be together again. ”
United says the 37-year-old remains an important part of the squad but regards this as a disciplinary matter.
The game he will miss at Stamford Bridge is a big one, with United just one point behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Several media outlets are reporting that he refused to come on as a late sub against the Spurs.
Ronaldo left the bench and walked down the tunnel in the 89th minute, even though United had only made three of their permitted five substitutions. He briefly went into the dressing room before leaving the stadium.
Manager Erik ten Hag said afterward that he would “deal with” the issue on Thursday.
Ronaldo had also shown his displeasure at being substituted during Sunday’s 0-0 home draw with Newcastle.
Former England striker Gary Lineker said Ronaldo’s behavior took attention away from United’s impressive performance against Spurs.
“That is unacceptable – it is so poor,” Lineker said on BBC Match of the Day.
Ashley Williams said: “It was a great night for Manchester United and here we are again talking about Cristiano Ronaldo – even though he didn’t play.”
Former England defender Micah Richards said: “For one of the greats of the game to do that when your team is winning, making it about him, is disappointing.”
Richards said Ronaldo’s behavior was “disrespectful” and he should be allowed to leave in the January transfer window.
“His manager had problems with him at the start of the season, during pre-season, and to then carry this on… I just think there is only one way this needs to go now,” Richards told BBC Radio 4.
“They need to come to an agreement in January and they need to let him go. He is undermining the manager there, so I think it’s best if they just part ways.”
Former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel said Ronaldo would have been aware such behavior would create “headlines”.
“It’s the first time I can say that I am disappointed with him. Normally I back him; I understand his situation,” Schmeichel told BBC Radio 5 Live. “We are in transition. Manchester United is now five managers down the road since Alex Ferguson.
“We have got Erik ten Hag in now who has very clear ideas about the way he wants to play football. We need understanding and time from everyone.
“We don’t need distractions like that, and that’s a disappointment, I would say.”