The Portugal attacker was left out of the Red Devils’s squad for this weekend’s trip to Chelsea after he stormed out of Old Trafford on Wednesday in the latter stages of the 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur. Erik ten Hag also confirmed that the forward failed to come off the bench in the win and was forced to train with the Under-21 squad on Friday.
It’s a subject that has caused debate among pundits, with Gary Lineker criticising Ronaldo, while Rio Ferdinand launched an impassioned defence of his former team-mate, saying he has to be treated ‘differently’.
Two other players who shared a dressing room with Ronaldo clashed on screen over United’s handling of the situation, with Neville claiming United were right to act as they did, although Keane took umbrage with those comments. Below is a small section of what Neville and Keane said live on Sky Sports following United’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
RK: There are players at Man United who have done a lot worse than what he’s done.
GN: At the current moment?
RK: Where do you want me to start? You know Paul Scholes, a great lad. Scholesy refused to play for Man United. What did we say to him? Nothing.
GN: He was fined two weeks’ wages.
RK: And Ronaldo will be fined for this. He’ll find his way back. Rio Ferdinand missed a drugs test, he got banned for eight months. [Eric] Cantona…
GN: He was banned for six months.
RK: And who’s fault was that? The club’s fault or his team-mates’?
GN: You don’t think Cristiano Ronaldo should have been punished this week?
RK: Yeah, dead.
GN: Well that’s all that’s happened.
RK: But you’re sayin he can’t deal with being a sub, he was leading goalscorer last season.
After the conversation moved to Ronaldo’s place in the team, it returned to United’s handling of the situation, with Keane implying there was hypocrisy from the club.
GN: Roy Keane the manager would have to deal with him.
RK: Of course. There’s players at Man United… Antony went on strike to get to Manchester United. Ten Hag is the manager who’s going on about the spirit, which he’s mentioned a few times when interviewed.
GN: But Ten Hag hasn’t criticised him, he’s actually handled it really well. Ten Hag’s not come out and stitched him up and said ‘he’s out of order’. He’s said ‘I’ve spoke about Cristiano enough’.
RK: He’s talking about the spirit after the game, do you not think that’s a message to Ronaldo
GN: Cristiano last season, he walked off having been left out by Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] against Everton in one of his first games, shaking his head at the end of the game. He was [throwing his arms out] with the body language to [Marcus] Rashford, he knows what he’s doing, Cristiano. He knows what he’s doing, he’s an experienced player. Players of that power have a really negative impact on the others when they do that.
RK: I’d be worried if he was happy to be sitting on the bench.
GN: I know! But the influence they have on other players is really negative because of the impact they have. They’re in an influential position. Roy, I love Cristiano to bits, but you can’t justify him leaving the ground early twice.
RK: I’m not saying [that]. There were other players left and they will get punished like we were. You get punished if you make a mistake, that’s part [of it]. But if he gives you something back.