What Cristiano Ronaldo’s tantrum means for the Manchester United dressing room
The former Real Madrid and Juventus attacker was livid when he was replaced in the win over Brentford.
It’s something we’ve become used to this season, perhaps the world’s greatest-ever player reduced to little more than a spoilt prima donna, wailing because he didn’t get his own way.
The Portugal star was replaced with the Red Devils leading 2-0 in the capital and reacted by throwing his arms in the arm, gesticulating and muttering to himself on the sidelines. Even Ralf Rangnick needed to have a word with the irate 36-year-old, such was the ridiculousness of Ronaldo’s response.
This is a problem in itself, that Rangnick feels he has to explain the decision to his star man, that he must justify his actions to the most important person at the club. And there were many justifiable reasons.
Rangnick spoke post-match about wanting to protect against a second-half fightback from the hosts, similar to the one we saw in the final 15 minutes at Villa Park on Saturday.
Then there’s the fact Ronaldo missed the last two games with a hip injury and would undoubtedly benefit from a rest with United in action against West Ham United on Saturday afternoon.
As Rangnick pointed out himself, the decision to replace Ronaldo and move to a 3-5-2 worked, with Marcus Rashford immediately making it 3-0 and removing any real hopes of a Brentford fightback.
Ronaldo should take a leaf out of his own book
In many ways it’s a microcosm of United’s season to date, with the Red Devils almost relegated to a sideshow alongside the headline act of Ronaldo.
What should really matter is how the Red Devils impressed after the break, the second game in a row they’ve had a prolonged period on top, while the performances of David De Gea and Scott McTominay should be the only agenda-setting topics, along with how United look better in a 4-3-3 shape. But they’re not…
Some may argue media outlets are to blame, as we only perpetuate the fascination surrounding Ronaldo. But the reality is, this is what people want to discuss, this is the subject which dominates fans’ post-match discussion.
It’s becoming an alarming trend. After the draw with Everton in October, Ronaldo’s omission from the starting XI dominated the agenda, as did storming down the tunnel against Norwich City last month, while his response to the 1-1 draw at St James’ Park saw former team-mate Gary Neville refer to him as a ‘whingebag’.
It’s just not good enough for a man tasked with turning round the fortunes of this club, who discussed last week how United must be challenging near the top and criticised younger players for not wanting to receive feedback.
Perhaps Ronaldo isn’t above some personal feedback himself, and at nearly 37 this level of petulance helps no-one. What example does it set for the team? How does it benefit United when their biggest name openly questions the manager’s decision? He’s basically aired his frustrations to millions of watching supporters, and Rangnick faced a post-match question on whether there is an on-going feud between the two.
BT Sport’s coverage may have highlighted his ‘will to win’ but the reality is, this was not the action of a man whose sole focus is on helping his side take three points.