Columnists, Sports

The Mezzala: Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United

Connie Dai | DFP Staff

Premier League football is on hold until late December in anticipation of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. As the last games on Matchday 16 came to a close, most Premier League fans were preparing themselves for the prestigious international competition. No one would predict the events that would occur just hours after the whistle was blown at Craven Cottage.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s woes with new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag are well known. The new manager from Ajax came in, implemented a new system that did not fancy Ronaldo’s playstyle and didn’t bother to try to create a role for the 37-year-old superstar. In the games leading up to the current day, Ronaldo has shown his frustration, most notably with instances like storming out of the stadium in the 89th minute in Man U’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham. 

Then, in an interview with Piers Morgan for The Sun on Sunday, Ronaldo expressed how he felt. On the show, Ronaldo stated that he felt “betrayed” by Manchester United and that he did not respect his manager. He went on to claim that ten Hag and several others tried to force him out of the club. 

He didn’t stop there, going on to criticize former players, managers and the progression of United as a club. He called out Manchester United legend and former teammate Wayne Rooney for speaking out against Ronaldo’s antics. Shockingly, Ronaldo blatantly suggested Rooney is jealous of him, saying, “I don’t know why he criticizes me so badly … probably because he finished his career, and I’m still playing at a high level.” 

He went on to state that he had never heard of Ralf Rangnick, last season’s manager. He also spoke up against the club itself, claiming that it had not improved or evolved since his transfer to Real Madrid in 2009. He also said that the club did not believe him when he arrived late to preseason due to his daughter’s illness and his son’s death. 

I can see Ronaldo’s perspective here. He was (and still is) one of the best players in the world and was forced to sit on the bench. I was frustrated sitting on the bench in some of my high school varsity soccer games, so I can only imagine how one of the greatest players of all time feels. Being hit with criticism while you are already dealing with what could be the death of your career, not because of yourself, but because of management, is surely going to bring only more frustration.

No player is bigger than the club, but playing Ronaldo for as few minutes as ten Hag has is wasting time in a waning career. It is very apparent that United has not really evolved as a club for a while. With the departure of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, United has never really challenged for top-tier silverware and has been underperforming for the longest time. Furthermore, if I just lost my son, and my daughter was hospitalized with bronchitis, I expect my employer to have some sort of empathy and compassion, not suspicion. 

At the same time, it is easy to say that CR7 handled this situation, and his time at United, completely wrong. The way in which he skipped a match and went on an interview is an immature way to go about things. It is kind of like Lebron James announcing he is joining the Miami Heat on national television while also criticizing the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise. While the timing of Rooney’s comments may have not been ideal, Ronaldo’s bashing of a former teammate that he had gone through so much with is pretty despicable. 

Also, why did Ragnick have to be targeted? I understand that Ronaldo may have had a bad experience with him last season, but did he really deserve to be attacked? He had to come in an uncomfortable transition period for the team. In the end, he basically gets called irrelevant by one of the players who he actually gave some of the most playing time and special treatment.

From the start, Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United was not a very smart one. While there was a lot of hype around the move due to Ronaldo’s status, he just does not fit in many teams. He is a player who a team must build around. He is not the last piece to the puzzle, rather the puzzle must change to fit around the piece. At Real Madrid, the puzzle was perfectly placed around him. As soon as he left for Juventus, however, his production went down, and people saw him struggle in areas where he seemed untouchable. 

The only move for Ronaldo now is to leave the club and preferably go to a team that is more ready to suit his playing style.




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