The second part of Cristiano Ronaldo’s interview with Piers Morgan aired on Thursday night and the Man United player’s explanations were telling.
Before we go any further, let’s get a few things straight: Cristiano Ronaldo is a phenomenal footballer, is one of the greatest players of all-time and has won just about every award that a footballer can lay their hands on.
But if there was an award to be won for having the best attitude and level of respect in football, Ronaldo would certainly not be in the running for that particular gong following the concluding part of his explosive interview with Piers Morgan on Thursday evening. As was portrayed in the small social media nuggets we had seen earlier in the week, Ronaldo used his sit-down chat with the former Good Morning Britain presenter to fire shots at Manchester United and at manager Erik ten Hag.
After opening up on his collapsed move to Manchester City, Ralf Rangnick’s credibility and the tragic loss of his baby son in part one, Ronaldo’s comments in part two were much more damning and tasteless when it came to talking football. For the first time, he opened up on his refusal to step off the substitutes bench against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford last month, delivering an explanation that was not only squeamish but also disrespectful towards Ten Hag, even though he did admit that he regretted his actions.
“Piers, I will be honest with you, it’s something that I regret, to leave the stadium (against Tottenham),” Ronaldo told Piers Morgan Uncensored. “Probably, or maybe no, I don’t know.
“It’s difficult to tell you 100 per cent but let’s say I regret [it], but in the same way I felt provoked by the coach. It is not allowed for a coach to put me in [for] three minutes in a game. Sorry, I’m not that kind of player. I know what I can give to the team.
“Don’t tell me that the top players, the guys who want everything, the key players will play three minutes. Come on, this is unacceptable.”
Ronaldo said that he knows what he can ‘give the team’. A quick glance at his stats so far this season tell you that his contribution to the team stands at just three goals in 16 games. It’s hardly the contribution you would expect from a key player, is it?
Of his three United goals so far this season, one was a penalty and one was a scruffy, rebounded effort. Admittedly, every goal counts, and every footballer is proud of any goal that they score, but they were hardly signs that Ronaldo is the pinnacle of this United squad that he believes he is.
In part one of his interview with Morgan, Ronaldo detailed how he wants to be a player he can lead by example, almost like an inspirational figure for footballers of the next generation to look up to. In the next breath, he was talking about how, ultimately, he is too good a player to be called upon for the closing minutes of a match. It is hardly a good example to set.
And that is why Ten Hag, ultimately, has earned further support as a result of this interview. The Dutchman has ended the player power era at Old Trafford, something almost every supporter was sick to the back teeth of by the end of last season, meaning the support he has gained for that should not just disappear because Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and a figure with 497million Instagram followers, has tried to throw the cat among the pigeons and put the focus back on him.
It is why Ten Hag’s post-match analysis of his side’s 2-1 win at Fulham last weekend is so important in this situation and worth remembering. The Dutchman used his final TV interview ahead of the World Cup break to not only reflect on his side’s dramatic win but also the progress that has been made this season.
“We have a base, we go in the right direction,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports. “The culture, attitude and mentality has changed. You saw that today, getting the win in the last dying seconds.
“Together with the fans, we have unity. We are united.”
Ronaldo’s bombshell interview, which was revealed just hours after Ten Hag signed off for the World Cup, has confirmed, even though it was already obvious, that he is most definitely not aligned with Ten Hag’s vision to move United forward for the better. In his chat with Morgan, which was more of a PR stunt than an actual interview, considering he was not challenged on a single topic, provided enough proof to suggest that his United career is over.
Ten Hag, a strict disciplinarian, will not have taken kindly to Ronaldo’s comments, given he has overhauled the culture at Old Trafford. The Portuguese international portrayed himself as someone who feels they are bigger than United, a club steeped in history, tradition and high values.
As Sir Alex Ferguson once said, as soon as any player believes they are bigger than the club, they need to go. Now is the time for Ronaldo to go.[via]