Gary Neville declared “it’s got to stop” when turning on Man Utd legend Cristiano Ronaldo who was benched for Portugal, and the lively pundit suggested an Erik ten Hag theory has been proved wrong.
Ronaldo left Manchester United by mutual consent late last month in the wake of his explosive and ill-advised interview with TalkTV. The 37-year-old’s return to Old Trafford quickly turned sour in its second season, with Ronaldo falling foul of Erik ten Hag.
The Dutchman wasted no time dropping Ronaldo whose professionalism had been called into question.
Indeed, he was handed a police caution for slapping a mobile phone out of an Everton fan’s hand back in April.
Ronaldo was then among a cluster of United players who left a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano before full time, and later refused to come on as a substitute against Tottenham. His tell-all interview with Piers Morgan proved the final straw.
Ronaldo’s next career move is still undecided, with reports he’s close to joining Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr branded ‘nonsense’ by the Daily Mail.
The World Cup therefore represented a chance for Ronaldo to showcase he still has gas left in the tank. However, aside from a penalty against Ghana, Ronaldo has done little of note.
He did hit the headlines in the final group game against South Korea, though not for the right reasons.
Ronaldo was substituted off by Portugal boss Fernando Santos and proceeded to show the type of petulance that has characterised his late-career.
Ronaldo was pictured swearing and shushing an opposition player who urged him to leave the field quicker.
When asked about the incident prior to Portugal’s Round of 16 clash with Switzerland, Santos took a dim view.
Santos said (via the Manchester Evening News): “Have I seen the images? Yes, I didn’t like it, not at all.
“I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it. But from that moment onwards everything is finished regarding that issue. These matters are resolved behind closed doors. It’s resolved. Full stop on this matter and now everyone is focused on tomorrow’s match.”
Cristiano Ronaldo becoming his own worst enemy
Santos’ true response was to drop Ronaldo from his starting eleven to face the Swiss. Replacement Goncalo Ramos grasped the opportunity with both hands, scoring the first hattrick of the World Cup in Qatar.
But speaking pre-match while working as a pundit for ITV, Gary Neville fired a barb Ronaldo’s way.
Neville claimed the suggestion Ten Hag unfairly ousted Ronaldo as some sort of powerplay to stamp his authroity on United clearly isn’t true.
Instead, Ten Hag is now just one of three managers who’ve determined Ronaldo isn’t for them, with the player’s reversal in fortune down to Ronaldo himself, not those around him.
“Well what happened at United, the suggestion was, it was because Ten Hag was trying to make a move on him, he’s trying to establish his authority,” said Neville.
“This is a manager [Santos] who’s got an unbelievable relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo for eight years.
“And there are a lot of fans of Cristiano Ronaldo who aren’t willing to tell him the truth. I think he does need to listen to the truth, that it’s becoming a little bit of a scruffy end.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he came on tonight and scored the winner, but the petulance, the stomping around, the sulking, it’s got to stop because it doesn’t reflect well on him at all.
“His long term legacy is set, he’s protected. He’s one of the great all time players but in the short term, he’s got to do a lot better, because is the Juventus manager wrong? The Manchester United manager wrong? And now is the Portugal manager wrong?
“There’s three of them that now have done the same thing with him.”