Rio Ferdinand has launched a remarkable defence of Cristiano Ronaldo following his midweek strop at Old Trafford that has resulted in the Manchester United star being left out of the squad for Saturday’s clash with Chelsea.
Ronaldo was seen storming down the tunnel during the latter stages of Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, and Erik ten Hag has since confirmed the attacker refused to come off the bench in the game. It’s led to speculation Ronaldo could soon leave the club or even be released from his contract.
United fans have, in general, been scathing of Ronaldo’s actions, which have seen him train with the club’s youth team on Friday. Yet, in a bizarre defence of his old team-mate, Ferdinand said Ronaldo should be treated ‘a little bit differently’ from the rest of the squad and seemed to imply Ten Hag hasn’t been communicating clearly with the Portugal international.
“I wouldn’t have been happy as a player,” Ferdinand said live on BT Sport. “I think in Ronaldo’s statement he mentioned he would probably have handled things differently, but sometimes with emotions involved it takes it out of your control; he’s human.
“I would have approached it differently, I probably would have been in the queue of people wanting to speak to him about that decision he made and why he did it and ask the question. I think there are two ways to look at it, and I don’t condone it for one minute, but there’s always another side to the story.
“Maybe communication hasn’t been as clear as he would have wanted. People will say ‘you’re a player in a team’ but when you’re dealing with someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, like it or not, it’s Cristiano Ronaldo, maybe probably the greatest footballer ever along with [Lionel] Messi. So sometimes the way of treating him is a little bit different to everyone else.
“It was the same under Fergie [Sir Alex Ferguson], probably the whole way through his career it’s been like that. I think he’s probably at the first point in his career where that’s not been upheld from the manager or the club and he’s probably in a position where he doesn’t know where he’s at.
“I’m not saying he was right to do that, his statement after said that as well,” Ferdinand continued. “But he could say that for every other player it’s ‘you play in a team’ but there are special players in a squad that things work differently for.
“By the way, he’s not just an iconic player, it’s important for the team to see that he is communicated with so he is fresh in his mind and that he’s ready to play. He’s 37, he probably needs that more than ever to make sure his body and his mind are right for him to be able to perform to the best of his ability and for Man United to get the best out of him.”