Hours before Cristiano Ronaldo’s much-anticipated in-depth interview with Piers Morgan finally aired, it was Manchester United tearing down a huge mural outside of Old Trafford with a picture of the Portuguese superstar.
They certainly knew what was in store for them.
Few at United were spared a scathing condemnation of the club, delivered by Ronaldo in the first part of a 90-minute interview aired on TalkTV on Wednesday.
Former and current teammates. Former managers. The people who run the club. They were all enthralled by one of the world’s greatest sporting superstars whose days at United are surely numbered.
Excerpts from the interview had already been published on Sunday, including clips in which Ronaldo said he felt “betrayed” by United and disrespected manager Erik ten Hag.
Here are some of the other key parts of the inflammatory interview that aired four days before the start of the World Cup – likely Ronaldo’s last – in Qatar:
Ronaldo said he was close to joining Manchester City before agreeing to join United for a second term in August last year. “It was close, it was close… they tried really hard to have me,” Ronaldo said of City and his manager Pep Guardiola. “But as you know, with my history at Manchester United, your heart, your feeling, the story you made before makes all the difference.” Ronaldo added that a conversation with Alex Ferguson, who was United manager in his first spell at the club, was influential. “I spoke to him – he said, ‘It’s impossible for you to come to Manchester City,'” Ronaldo said. “I said, ‘Okay, boss.'”
Ronaldo said he quickly realized United were stuck from their first successful stint there from 2003 to 2009. “When I arrived, I thought that everything will be different – the technology, the infrastructure, everything,” he said. “I was surprised in that way in a bad way. I saw everything was the same.” Ronaldo said he was also surprised United hadn’t attracted a better player after signing. He said the club “stopped in good time”.
“I knew Manchester United wasn’t the same but I didn’t see it was such a big gap… in the last 10 years.” He said “the progression has been at United compared to his two previous teams, Real Madrid and Juventus zero”.
Ronaldo has criticized United’s decision to hire Ralf Rangnick as interim manager after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking. “This guy isn’t even a coach,” Ronaldo said. “Having a big club like Manchester United bring in a sporting director didn’t just surprise me, it surprised the whole world.” He agreed with Morgan’s assessment that it was a “ridiculous decision” and hinted that he’s never been made by heard Rangnick. “Of course not,” he said. “Deep down, I never saw him as a boss.” Ronaldo blamed the club’s “structure” for the decision to hire someone like Rangnick.
Ronaldo said he was surprised the young players at United hadn’t looked to him as a role model more. “They listen to one thing and in two minutes they’ve already forgotten it and are doing what they think is best,” he said. Without naming names, Ronaldo said, “They don’t care.” “Some, yes,” he said. “But most of them, no. But it’s not surprising to me because I don’t think they will have longevity in their careers. It’s impossible.” Ronaldo then went on to say Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro are exceptions at United.
Ronaldo announced in April that one of his newborn twins had died and he told Morgan it was one of the most difficult times of his life. He thanked the English public for the support he had received during this period and said he even received a letter from the British royal family offering their condolences.
Ronaldo said he was hurt by media criticism from former United team-mate Wayne Rooney, who said it wasn’t long since the former England striker was at his home to pick up his children. Was it jealousy, Morgan asked? “Probably,” replied the 37-year-old Ronaldo. “Because he retired in his 30s and I still play at a high level. I’m not going to say I’m better looking than him – which is true, but…” Ronaldo added: “It’s hard to listen to this criticism and negativity from people who have played with you.”
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