Cristiano Ronaldo’s career at Manchester United must be seen as two distinct chapters very separately. One from 2003 through 2009, and the second between 2021 and 2022.
The former will be cherished forever as his development into one of the greatest players of all time catapulted United into one of the most focused periods of success in their history. He scored great goals and made unforgettable memories.
The second was a dream reunion that failed to live up to expectations and turned sour. It should be quickly forgotten but it should not detract from the first.
Ronaldo is now no longer a United player for the second time. His contract was terminated by “mutual agreement” just days after his interview with Piers Morgan TalkTV.
It was clear for months that Ronaldo wanted to leave. He asked the club to let him go over the summer, but there were no suitors for the 37-year-old who still commands a wage of around £12m per season.
Evidently, his relationship with Erik ten Hag was strained. Ronaldo got on the wrong side of the manager when he and others watching in the stands left Old Trafford while a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano was still being played.
Even worse, he refused to come on as a substitute in the Premier League match against Tottenham in October, and then walked down the tunnel before the match was over. Ronaldo was dropped by Ten Hag for the following match against Chelsea “as a result” of his behaviour.
During the interview that would forever be infamous, Ronaldo harshly criticized the club. Some may see benefit from his comments, calling out an apparent lack of investment in the infrastructure that has seen United fall behind their biggest rivals. Maybe you will at least force something positive.
But he spoke disrespectfully of Ten Hag, left their reputation unsalvageable and severely undermined their boss’s authority in the shadow of Ronaldo staying longer.
Although Ronaldo often carried United on his back last season, particularly in the Champions League group stage, hindsight suggests it was arguably the right move at the wrong time. Had he returned in 2013 when it was previously thought possible – never during the power transition from Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill to David Moyes and Ed Woodward – the timing would have been much better. Ronaldo was only 28 years old and United needed a talisman.
Ronaldo himself claimed he was “close” to joining Manchester City last year – although that is not the case in this version of events Something the city refuted. The fact that he ended up at United would probably put him out of the blue, which in itself would have been worth it alone for the fans in Manchester’s red half – how terrible it would have been for a modern club legend to lift silverware with such ferocity. Competition?
Old Trafford was the emotional choice, with heart in over his head for both parties.
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united He has been in the way of seasoned strikers several times in recent years and each time has been a temporary fix that has not been of any long-term benefit. In hindsight, the 36/37-year-old Ronaldo will be no exception to this trend.
It did not fit where the club is now under Ten Hag, a manager trying to implement a new project and establish an identity that has been missing for a decade. Trying to dethrone a club legend beyond his best, even a great one like Ronaldo, was not in keeping with the long-awaited new chapter.
someone driven RonaldoHaving enjoyed the success of his 20 years, he will never be satisfied with being a second choice. His behavior that eventually forced him out of the club was neither appropriate nor acceptable but it secured him the exit he was seeking.
He will now have the opportunity to evaluate his options and freely choose the club that will allow him to continue his career on his terms. Meanwhile, United could continue on their current trajectory with the specter of Ronaldo distracted.