The Athletic, perhaps the most respected football news agency in the UK, reacted to the news about Cristiano Ronaldo’s interview with the famous bad guy Piers Morgan.
Morgan revealed last night that he had given a 90-minute interview to the United player, which is due to air on Wednesday and Thursday.
A very hateful polemicist provided excerpts from an interview with his former employers, The Sun, in which Ronaldo said that he “does not respect” coach Eric ten Haga, feels “betrayed” by the club, accused Wayne Rooney of jealousy because he still plays and looks better than him.
He also said that he had never even heard of Ralf Rangnick when he was appointed interim manager, and also praised Liverpool fans for supporting him in a way that United fans did not.
This story broke a few hours after United went on a break in the World Cup, having won a good away victory over Fulham thanks to the goal of the new star Alejandro Garnacho, scored in stoppage time.
“Perhaps it didn’t occur to Cristiano Ronaldo that maybe it wasn’t the right night to tell everything about him,” writes reporter Daniel Taylor.
“On the other hand, is it even remotely surprising – given everything we know about Ronaldo, both good and bad — that he doesn’t really care that he spoils, spoils and sabotages one of the happiest events for Manchester United this season?”
Taylor pays tribute to Ronaldo’s achievements as a player, but says that “there is a difference between a great footballer and a great footballer. It’s just a shame, maybe it’s sometimes difficult for him to combine both.”
Athletic believes that this is Ronaldo’s way of forcing him to leave Old Trafford, making his continued presence untenable. The club is contracted until June for £515,000 a week, which means that if they terminate the deal, they will have to pay him more than £15 million plus any severance.
“The more he pretends to be a victim, the more obvious it becomes that what he really wants is for the relevant people at Old Trafford to let him go,” Taylor says.
“It’s Ronaldo who wants to force the situation. It was Ronaldo who started thinking of Old Trafford as a five-star prison. It’s all a strategy, everything is carefully thought out.”
Mike Keegan of The Mail agrees, saying: “The challenge now is to get it out with minimal cost. Good luck with that.”
Phil Brown of talkSPORT and NBC goes one step further, saying, “The only reason he didn’t give this interview a few months ago is because he wanted to use United to prepare for the World Cup. All he had to do was STFU and leave, but his ego couldn’t handle his downfall, so he had to blame others.”
The reaction of the leading journalists covering United was generally indifferent to Ronaldo’s complaints and, in most cases, cynical about his motives.
Apparently, everyone agrees that when it comes to accusations of betrayal, when you point your finger at someone, three fingers point back at you.