Cristiano Ronaldo

Actions speak louder than words. But not in Cristiano Ronaldo’s world they don’t.

Less than four hours after one his biggest admirers, Alejandro Garnacho, scored the goal that sent Manchester United into the World Cup break in the best way possible, video footage of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner ripping into the club that gave him the platform to build his career emerged.

His explosive interview with Piers Morgan, released late on Sunday evening, was one of the most damning you are ever likely to see a footballer give.

Ronaldo, who will be off to Qatar this week with his Portugal teammates for the start of what is likely to be his fifth and final World Cup, tore into United and manager Erik ten Hag without a care in the world, not thinking of the impact it could have on his teammates and the club’s recent progress. He accused the club of “betraying” him and criticised Ten Hag for not showing any respect towards him. It was frankly unbelievable.

“I felt betrayed,” Ronaldo told Morgan, reflecting on his efforts to leave United during the summer being knocked back. “Honestly, I shouldn’t say that, I don’t know. But I don’t care, people should listen.

“I feel betrayed and I felt that some people didn’t want me here, not only this year but last year too.”

On Ten Hag, he continued: “I don’t have respect for him because he doesn’t show respect for me. If you don’t have respect for me, I’m never going to have respect for you.”

Ten Hag has expertly handled the situation concerning Ronaldo this season, although he is the one who has often been disrespected by the 37-year-old.

In just a matter of sentences, however, Ronaldo has almost certainly closed the door on his United career for good. There should be no way back for him at Old Trafford after this, regardless of his status at the club and what he has done during his two spells as a United player.

He has destroyed his legacy and tarnished his reputation in M16, although it had already taken a hit after he chose to storm down the tunnel, head back into the dressing room and leave the stadium before the full-time whistle on United’s 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford last month had even been sounded.

It was both tasteless and classless – and Ten Hag made sure he was punished for it, banishing him from the squad for the trip to Chelsea three days later.

He was forced to train alone at Carrington the day before the game, too. But to Ten Hag’s credit, who has always backed Ronaldo publicly ever since arriving at Old Trafford in May, despite the latter not repaying him on the pitch, scoring a paltry three goals this season, he offered him a reprieve, inviting him back into the first-team fold for the following fixture, handing him a start for the Europa League win over Sheriff Tiraspol. He scored that evening and all seemed well in the world again.

For many fans, as much as they respected Ten Hag’s decision in his position as manager, it was a mistake. Ronaldo, considering he had refused to step onto the pitch as a substitute when instructed to against Tottenham, had crossed the line and should not have played for the club again, even if everyone is guilty of making a mistake once in a while.

It is, on reflection, frankly startling that he captained the club at Aston Villa just over a week ago. A week later, he has battered the club and its manager to pieces, completely misreading the room – and not for the first time.

Ronaldo, as a footballer, both at United and across the game as a whole, will go down as one of the all-time greats. It is hard to imagine another player like him coming along anytime soon. He might possibly never be matched.

However, in just one interview, something which he vowed to do back in August, he has tarnished his reputation at United and damaged his lasting legacy once and for all. Off the back of this, it is impossible to imagine him playing for the club again – and why should he? Ten Hag is in the process of trying to transform United’s culture and fortunes. They don’t need Ronaldo to hinder that, especially when they play better without him, anyway.

The last thing Ten Hag and the club needs is to be dealing with Ronaldo’s outbursts and actions, which threaten to derail all of the progress that has been made in such a short space of time this season.

The best thing United can do, although it is an easier-said-than-done task, is rip up Ronaldo’s contract and send him packing, granting him his wish once and for all. As Ten Hag said in his post-match assessment at Craven Cottage, just hours before this explosive interview dropped, the “culture, attitude and mentality has changed” at United. They don’t need Ronaldo getting in the way of that.


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