With less than a week to go before the start of the World Cup, the football world also has its eyes riveted on Manchester United after Cristiano Ronaldo’s virulent criticism of his coach and club owners who could lead to parting with a star who has become quite embarrassing.
Will we see Cristiano Ronaldo again in the Red Devils jersey? The prospect seems more unlikely than ever after the scathing interview given by the 37-year-old Portuguese star to the English media TalkTV.
Low playing time, criticism of his coach, his leaders and even some of his former teammates: the divorce now seems to have taken place between the striker and United. Epilogue of a failed remarriage between the five-time Ballon d’Or and a club he found in 2021, after a successful first stint (2003-2009): three Premier Leagues and a Champions League, under the direction of ‘Alex Ferguson.
The match lost against Aston Villa on November 6 (3-1), during which he had nevertheless worn the captain’s armband, could be his last with Manchester United.
CR7, author of only three goals this season, did not appear in the Mancunian group during the next two meetings, the last before the World Cup. A few weeks earlier, unhappy with his status as a substitute, it was he who refused to come into play against Tottenham, resulting in his sidelining for the next match.
One week before the World Cup with the Portuguese selection, the star then opened up about his club situation in an explosive interview with star host Piers Morgan on TalkTV.
In the first part broadcast on Sunday, Cristiano first attacked his coach, the Dutchman Erik ten Hag. “I have no respect for him because he shows no respect for me,” he said. “Not just the coach, but two or three other guys around the club. I feel betrayed,” he added.
In the second revealed on Monday, he attacked Manchester United owners, the Glazer family, who “don’t care” about their team’s sporting success. He also scratched his former teammates Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville, who criticized him: “they are not my friends”.
In a statement released on Monday, the club simply said they would “provide a response after the full facts have been established”.
After this exit from the Portuguese star, his return to the club at the end of December after the World Cup seems very unlikely. According to ESPN, Ten Hag has told Manchester United bosses that Ronaldo should no longer play for the club.
During the last summer transfer window, Ronaldo had already sought a base after his club’s disappointing sixth place in the league and the non-qualification in the Champions League, despite 18 goals from CR7.
As this summer, the track of a transfer this winter to Bayern Munich is mentioned, as is that of Sporting Portugal, his training club, which does not however seem sufficiently equipped to assume the monthly salary of the star, which would amount to more than two million euros.
“Realizing the dream” of the Portuguese
While waiting for the hectic hours of the winter transfer window, Ronaldo is fully focused on the World Cup.
“Total and absolute concentration on the work of the national team. A united group, towards a single objective: to realize the dream of all Portuguese people!”, He launched on social networks after the first training session with his teammates on Monday afternoon.
Far from Manchester, the star remains scrutinized, like the video of his handshake exchanged in the locker room with his club teammate, Bruno Fernandes. The furtive gesture, as well as Ronaldo’s puzzled look, quickly gave rise to interpretations.
Midfielder Joao Mario tried to defuse the controversy, referring to a joke between his teammates: “Bruno was one of the last to arrive and Cristiano asked him if he had come by boat.”
Asked before about Ronaldo’s interview and its possible consequences on the Portuguese group, Joao Mario brushed off: “I don’t see a problem with the timing, because everyone is talking about Cristiano all the time, so it’s not a problem for us”.
CR7 now hopes to be talked about on the pitch during his very likely last World Cup, a trophy that is missing from his list. And regain the status of insatiable scorer and undisputed leader to which he is more often accustomed.