Ex-Man Utd striker and Gary Lineker agree on ‘spoilt brat’ Ronaldo as potential return date revealed
The Old Trafford star has come in for widespread criticism this week.
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to leave Manchester United’s bench before the final whistle of Wednesday night’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur continues to provoke and inspire discussion throughout the footballing world.
The 37-year-old was an unused substitute during his side’s superb display in midweek, but seemingly expressed disdain at his lack of involvement by heading towards the tunnel at Old Trafford before the referee had brought proceedings to a halt. In response, manager Erik ten Hag vowed to “deal with” the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, and is expected to omit him from his match day squad for Saturday evening’s Premier League clash with Chelsea.
Ronaldo has since released a statement in which he reiterated his respect for his United colleagues, claiming that he is still “the same person and the same professional” that he has been throughout his glittering career. The Manchester Evening News reported on Friday morning that the veteran arrived at Carrington at the same time as the Red Devils’ U21 side, although he was understood to be at the training ground for individual work, as opposed to a session with the reserves.
ESPN, who previously reported that Ronaldo refused a request to come on as an 87th minute substitute against Spurs, have since suggested that the Portugal international may be reintroduced to Ten Hag’s squad for next Thursday’s Europa League fixture against Sheriff. But for many, the forward’s midweek stunt has already gone some way towards tarnishing a reputation that continues to suffer in the midst of his prickly second spell with United.
Speaking on Wednesday night’s edition of Match of the Day, host Gary Lineker said: “We all know what a great player he has been and stuff like that, but walking off the pitch as a substitute with two minutes to go before the game is finished - I’m sorry, I mean that’s unacceptable. That’s poor, isn’t it?”
Pundit Micah Richards replied: “It’s so poor. For someone who we’ve looked up to for so long, one of the greats of the game, to do that when your team are winning, making it about him, he shouldn’t. Unacceptable.”
“He’s 37. He’s had the best career, probably one of the best players to ever play the game. Your team that you’re meant to love, Manchester United, have played their best football that they’ve played in years - absolutely battered Spurs... they’ve played better without him.
“Ronaldo came on against Everton and did well, scored a goal. Then he starts against Newcastle and was poor - got taken off, has a huff. I rate Ten Hag for not feeling pressured to play Ronaldo, [he’s] strong handed. To walk down the tunnel like that, for me, is a disgrace...”
Former United striker Dion Dublin was similarly incensed by Ronaldo’s actions. He told Amazon Prime: “I’d probably want to get him around the throat and say, ‘What are you doing?’.
“It’s out of order. I love Ronaldo, I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I think he should be getting more minutes and think he can make a difference more than most. However, the game’s still going on, your team-mates are still playing. It basically says, ‘I don’t really care’.”
Even Ronaldo’s former teammate Rio Ferdinand admitted that the attacker’s behaviour was unfair on those around him, but also went some way to defending the player, questioning why Ten Hag did not see fit to offload him during the summer transfer window.
Speaking on Vibe with Five, he said: “I wouldn’t expect anything different from him. I think the big problem that Erik ten Hag has got is that, coming up to this next window, he has to think very carefully what he does. If he doesn’t see Cristiano Ronaldo as a starter in his team more often than not, he has to release him from the contract, let him go.
“It’s not fair on anybody, on Cristiano, on Erik ten Hag, or the players, if after every game the first question is ‘why didn’t Cristiano start’ and that’s the story. Man Utd have won 2-0 today and one of the leading stories is about Ronaldo. That isn’t right.
“You sit here and think, ‘Why did Man Utd just not let him go then?’ Especially if Ten Hag kind of knew he wasn’t going to be his main player. That’s the baffling part for me because you think what he’s done in his career at his level.
“The manager would have surely known before the season started ‘I’m not really going to play Ronaldo. Is he really what I want in my team? Is he the future of what I’m building?’ It looks to me right now like he erred on the side of no. If that’s the case, I feel he should have let him go. It’s going to be something which probably hampers him [Ten Hag] going forward.”