Jose Fonte: Portugal Plays More Like a Team Without Cristiano Ronaldo


Manchester United’s top scorer last season, before the mutual agreement to leave the club that made his name a household name, everything quickly fell apart for Cristiano Ronaldo.

The journey shouldn’t have ended this way, especially considering the fanfare surrounding his return to the Red Devils and his subsequent second debut.

But after missing the pre-season for personal reasons, new manager Eric ten Hag decided that his fitness was not up to par and tried to build his team the way he knows best.

There was a clearly discernible model of the game that required full concentration, hard work, relentless energy and pressure, which Ronaldo is not able to provide, given his age.

His playing time was drastically reduced, and his completion suffered as a result. And the 37-year-old man, known for his determination to achieve new records, could not accept his new reality.

CR7 problems at United and for Portugal

What followed could have been completely avoided, but the Portuguese decided that this was the best way to put an end to everything. He went on the air to publicly accuse the club and the manager of disrespecting him.

The 20-time champions of England had no choice but to negotiate a mutual dismissal with Ten Hag, showing that he can now focus on the future without being distracted by anything.

If a Portuguese national team player thought that the World Cup would be his land of redemption, he was wrong.

After three unsuccessful performances in the group stage, he lost his place to Gonzalo Ramos in the 1/8 final match against Switzerland.

The Benfica striker scored a hat-trick, and the team showed fantastic, smooth football, and the same problems arose again.

There were many reports that Ronaldo threatened to leave the national camp and that he refused to train with the reserves, instead focusing on working in the gym with the remaining players.

Teammate Jose Fonte, who was unlucky to miss the chance to play at the World Cup, believes that Ronaldo’s presence hinders the team, as players invariably try to find him at every opportunity.

“His very presence on the field makes the national team players unconsciously and automatically play for him, always give him the ball.

“For who he is, for what he has done and what he is still capable of,” the 2016 European champion said on the BBC’s daily podcast (via A Bola).

The 38-year—old Lille defender believes that the most important thing that awaits his country at this World Cup is the fact that they have a great team in which both defenders and forwards are in great shape.

Fonte: Ramos deserves a start

And without the additional pressure associated with handing over the five-time winner of the Golden Ball, the team demonstrated flexibility and a desire to work for each other.

“When he’s not there, Portugal plays more like a team, and it was noticeable. They played smoothly, without a single focus, everyone contributed, and it was wonderful.

“We had success with Cristiano Ronaldo during these years, he was very influential. Gonzalo Ramos offers another game offer and we had a great evening, we were all happy for him. I hope it stays that way.”

The former Southampton star also expressed the opinion that Ramos will definitely keep his place in the quarterfinal match against Morocco, despite Ronaldo’s desire to start.

“How if the boy scored three goals? You can’t teach a legend like Ronaldo. Ronaldo will always be Ronaldo, and it’s even very positive for Portugal, if a player like him leaves the bench, it will be another problem for the opponents.”

But the former Real Madrid player doesn’t like being called a substitute too much. It remains to be seen how this latest saga involving one of the greatest men of all time will unfold.


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