When the first snippets of Cristiano Ronaldo’s interview with Piers Morgan surfaced on social media, many people were quick to suggest that his Manchester United career was now, ultimately, finished.
It remains to be seen how exactly the Reds will respond to the controversial claims made by the Portuguese attacker, but the club will certainly react, sooner rather than later.
Ronaldo has come under intense criticism for his comments about his manager Erik ten Hag, former teammates and overall treatment at Old Trafford, with a number of former players and pundits – several of whom played with the 37-year-old – coming out in defence of the club’s handling of the situation.
However, there is yet to be a response from any of Ronaldo’s club teammates, which is understandable given that a number of them are on international duty, and will probably be waiting on instructions about how to respond if and when questioned on the topic.
Despite this, United’s players have previously spoken about the need to follow the instructions set out by Ten Hag – and the consequences of not doing so – with the Dutchman implementing a number of rules that need to be followed.
Before the start of the campaign, Bruno Fernandes discussed the impact of the manager since his arrival at the club, insisting that the team would be successful if they stuck by him.
Speaking in August, during United’s pre-season campaign, Fernandes insisted that players must follow Ten Hag’s instructions and rules, otherwise they risked being ‘punished’ and kicked out of the team.
Asked about the Dutchman’s demands, Fernandes told Sky Sports: “The main thing is following what he wants because I think he has a straight line that he wants to have with the team and I want to follow that straight line because I think we can be successful in that way.”
He continued: “What brings me confidence is that, the same way it was at Sporting it is now here, there is a straight line, this is what we have to do. Whoever doesn’t do this is out of the team.
“So I think that if everyone understands that we have to follow the rules, follow what the coach demands, what the team demands, then everyone will be on the same page.
“So that makes the team be successful. If the team is successful, everyone of us will be individually too anyway. So I think everyone will be happy at the end of the season if we can do everything that he [Ten Hag] wants us to do.
“It’s clear, he explained really well what he wants and he demands that. So everyone that’s not doing what he demands they know that they will be punished.
“When we talk about discipline it’s about that. He’s very clear, so there’s no way that you can escape from that. Even if you don’t understand English you can understand the way he wants to play!
“So I think that is really important for us so everyone is on the same page, and I think they will follow the line that he wants so no-one can get out of nothing with him.
“And I think the senior players have to make an important step on that too, making sure that everyone is on the same page and not letting anyone get away with anything.”
When Ronaldo and Fernandes came face-to-face for the first time since the former’s interview dropped, it appeared as though Fernandes was annoyed about his teammates’ comments. However, Portugal midfielder Joao Mario has since claimed that the United pair were in fact joking about the late arrival of the Reds’ number eight.
“I was in the locker room at that moment, I saw pictures, it was a joke between them, curiously because Bruno was one of the last to arrive and Cristiano asked if he had come by boat (laughs). It was a joke between them, they play together,” he said during a press conference.
If the duo are to discuss the matter, it will undoubtedly happen behind closed doors. Fernandes will certainly have an opinion on Ronaldo’s decision to partake in the interview, as well as what was said during it.
However, Fernandes’ comments before the start of the campaign indicate that Ten Hag will take an assertive approach to dealing with the fallout from Ronaldo’s interview. Many feel that the veteran frontman has played his last game in a Red shirt, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if that proves to be the case.