The problem with the tale of Ronaldo’s betrayal


Cristiano Ronaldo has almost certainly played his last game for Manchester United after an “explosive” interview that “the whole world is talking about” (words by Piers Morgan). ‘The greatest star football has ever seen’ (Piers encore) spills the beans on his cruel and incompetent employers in a two-part interview which will air tonight and tomorrow. Fans will wonder how big the hype is and where the truth and blame lies.

Many will see a fading star

Ronaldo’s complaints range in seriousness, from grumbling about the food at Man U (no improvement since his first stint) to greater criticism about the way the club operates and its lack of a coherent strategy (exemplified by the appointment of Ralf Rangnick in as caretaker manager following the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer). He also alleges senior figures at the club wanted him out and that he was abused when he failed to return to the club for pre-season training due to a family medical emergency. Ronaldo hints that his explanation was not believed.

What do fans think of all this? There’s no doubt that some of Ronaldo’s criticisms are valid. Few of the faithful would dispute that Manchester United have drifted in recent years, moving from one manager to another. He’s probably right that just like fish rot from head to toe, the opportunistic Glazers who are supposed to run the club are part of the problem. And current manager Erik ten Hag might have been able to handle this proud and emotional man, and his sizable ego, more wisely – but who would envy him that task?

On the other hand, Manchester United’s internal problems were no secret when Ronaldo chose to join, and it can be extremely difficult to make a big club even better, even with substantial resources and a global fan base. . It took Liverpool 30 years and ten managers to rediscover the winning formula. Manchester United may still have years to go.

The plot betrayed by the hero is unconvincing and seems a little desperate. And overhyped: the truth is that if the Ronaldo affair can make some headlines, the whole world is not talking about it. Many will see a fading star needing to frame their story in a way that presents itself in the most positive way possible for future suitors. He clearly wants a few more years at the top, meaning the Champions League, for which he will need one of the super clubs to move in his place.

If the consensus were to form that he is simply no longer a first-team regular, still capable of moments of brilliance but of questionable overall value for a finely tuned Champions League side, then his options will be limited. . He could make a nostalgic return to Sporting Lisbon or have a showbizzy last hurray in MLS. Or one last big payday in the Middle East.

It’s admirable that Ronaldo wants to avoid that fate and continue to be one of the best players in the world’s top leagues for some time to come – and maybe even reach 1,000 goals in total. The best thing about him has always been his passion for the game and his unquenchable thirst for more success. He clearly believes he is still in his mid-twenties. It’s an inspiring attitude towards life in a way, but at 37 maybe a little jejun. Ronaldo looks more and more like a throwback to a time when people talked about individuals as much as teams. Rather, it is the age of Swiss Watch tactics and precision engineering when it comes to creating winning teams. Harmony and a balance of egos are needed off the pitch as well as on – mavericks and loners, not to mention prima donna (as many consider Ronaldo) look a bit overwhelmed.

Despite Piers Morgan’s adulation, not everyone considers Ronaldo the greatest player in history. There have always been grumblings that his phenomenal statistical record was misleading and that his on-field contributions hadn’t advanced his team’s fortunes as much as it seemed. But his reputation has always survived thanks to the strength of his personality, his marketing and the relentless media attention.

It may not work this time. The Stretford End faithful are unlikely to be impressed by a current player who says it all – especially Arsenal fan Morgan. Few people will buy the tale of the great betrayal. Ronaldo may be right that senior Manchester United officials want him, but for the simple reasons that he’s hugely expensive, past his prime and difficult to manage.

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As for the club, Manchester United surely have a right of reply, especially when it comes to accusations of being callous towards Ronaldo during his family emergency. But we may have to wait a bit. So far, the little one has been cautious and dignified in his reaction to his claims and seems resigned to him leaving the club, if he doesn’t want him to.

If further comments are made, I suspect it will be in the same tone as the late Queen’s response to Meghan Markle: ‘Memories may differ’.


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