Cristiano Ronaldo says he felt “provoked” by Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag after he refused to come on last month against Tottenham and left Old Trafford before the full-time whistle.
Ronaldo said he believes Ten Hag “does not respect” him in the way he “deserves”, although he had “regret” for his behaviour against Tottenham in October but feels the punishment he faced was too harsh.
In the final excerpt of his explosive interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, Ronaldo also revealed he rejected a €350m (£305m) offer to play in Saudi Arabia this summer and claimed he had “many offers” to leave United.
The 37-year-old revealed he plans to carry on his playing career until the age of 40, but does not know which club he will be representing beyond the World Cup in Qatar but hinted at a United exit suggesting it is “probably good to have a new chapter” in his career.
Man Utd calm about Ronaldo interview
Manchester United will not make a decision on Cristiano Ronaldo’s future until they see the full interview with Piers Morgan and remain calm about the situation, Sky Sports News’ Dharmesh Sheth reports.
Sky Sports News understands United don’t accept some of the criticism Ronaldo made in the clips that have been aired so far.
Ronaldo criticised the club for a lack of investment in the 13 years since he left Old Trafford but sources have insisted United have invested in their facilities – notably the training ground, restaurant and swimming pool.
Ronaldo was also critical of Erik ten Hag but again sources insist Ronaldo was treated with respect by the club and the manager – in news conferences, Ten Hag always maintained Ronaldo had been given time off to deal with family matters.
Away from United, Ronaldo said he would be “happy” if Arsenal won the Premier League, with the Gunners currently five points ahead of Manchester City at the top.
In clips previously aired this week from the same interview, Ronaldo disclosed he was “close” to moving to Manchester City last summer, before Sir Alex Ferguson intervened, and was particularly critical of the Ralf Rangnick era as well as the club’s crop of young players.
Read the best bits from part two of the interview below.
‘I regret leaving the stadium; I felt provoked’
On refusing to come on as a substitute against Tottenham in October after Ten Hag had not wanted to bring him on in the 6-3 defeat at Manchester City earlier that month:
“You don’t put me on against Manchester City because of respect for my career and you want to put me on for three minutes against Tottenham? It doesn’t make sense.
“I think he did it on purpose. I felt provoked not only because of that game, but before. He doesn’t respect [me] the way I should deserve.
“But it is what it is. This is why probably, the game against Tottenham, I left.
“I will be honest with you, it’s something that I regret, leaving the stadium [against Tottenham]. Probably, or maybe no, I don’t know.
“It’s difficult to tell you 100 per cent but let’s say I regret, but in the same way I felt provoked by the coach.
“A coach to put me in three minutes in a game [is] not allowed for me. Sorry, I’m not that kind of player. I know what I can give to the teams.
“Don’t tell me that the top players, the guys who want everything, the key players will play three minutes. Come on, this is unacceptable.
“After what they keep saying before, that they respect me. For me it was not respect, this is why I take this decision I regret.
“I apologised to my team-mates for the situation, I did a post – I regret leaving the stadium. I regret my team-mates know what I felt, and I apologised.
“The coach didn’t have respect for me. So this is why the relationship, it’s in that way. He keeps saying in the press that he come to me, he like me blah, blah, blah. But that’s only for the press. One hundred per cent.
“If you don’t have respect for me, I’m never going to have respect for you.”
On leaving before the end of Man Utd’s pre-season game against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford in July, Ronaldo added: “Me and eight players [left], but they mentioned only my name. Last year, many players did the same. In that game, eight players do the same but they only speak about the black sheep, which is me.
“I completely understand, okay, it’s done, I apologise to the coach and for me, the chapter was closed.”
‘Empathy with Ten Hag not good’
Speaking about his relationship with manager Erik ten Hag:
“I understand that in a new job [you try to make an impression.] Manchester was so bad in the last five years that they should clean the house, let’s say it in that way.
“But the way they approach, the way the press make this so big. I really understand in the beginning because I didn’t do the pre-season, I don’t start to play, but going more further than that.
“Other things happen that people, they don’t know. And I’m not hiding that the empathy with the coach is not good. I’m honest.”
Ronaldo turned down €350m Saudi move | ‘I’ve had many offers’
Asked whether he had been offered a two-year contract worth €350m (£305m) from a Saudi Arabian club:
“It’s true, yes, it’s true. In that moment [I turned it down], yes.
“They [the press] say many, many garbage things. Jorge Mendes has more than 100 players and they go to Chelsea and Arsenal, but they always mention Cristiano Ronaldo, ‘they offer Cristiano’.
“Let’s be honest, who is the most expensive salary player in the Premier League ever in history – it’s me, even at 37 years old.
“They [the media] even offered me to Sporting [Lisbon] or Napoli. I will be honest with you, I didn’t have many, many clubs but I have many, many offers of the other clubs.
“But what the press keep saying, the garbage, is that nobody wants me, which is completely wrong.
“And I was happy here [at United] to be honest, I was motivated to do a great season here [at United]. But they continue to repeat that nobody wants Cristiano.
“How they don’t want a player who last year scored 32 goals last year, [including] with the national team?”
Will Ronaldo remain a Man Utd player?
Asked if he will still be a Manchester United player come January 1:
“It’s difficult to tell right now, because my mood is, right now, [focused on] the World Cup. It’s probably my last World Cup, of course, my fifth World Cup.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen after the World Cup, but as I told you before, and I will say again, the fans will always be in my heart. And I hope they will be by my side, even if I [come] back, or if I’m not back, or if I stay or whatever.
“Nobody’s perfect. Episodes in the life we all have is part of being human beings, is part of me being a human being and [being a] father as well. I always will commit mistakes.
“But I don’t know, it’s hard to tell right now what’s going to happen after the World Cup because my focus is only for the World Cup, for the Portugal national team.
“My motivation is not the same [at United] as it was a few months ago. I hope to change. I am not saying that I need a fresh challenge, but let’s see.
“I cannot answer right [on his Man Utd future] now because my focus is for the World Cup.
“But I don’t know, maybe it’s good for Manchester and it’s probably good for me as well to have a new chapter. Probably, but I don’t know.
“If I will be back I will be the same Cristiano but I hope people be on my side and let me shine like I have done at all the clubs in the years.
“When I arrived at Manchester United, I always [wanted to] be available to help the team do the good things, to put in the right spots, to compete with the best teams.
“But it’s hard when they cut your legs and they don’t like you to shine and they don’t listen to your advice.
“I think I have words to advise to the club because the trophies are one individual and collective. I think I can help a lot, but when the infrastructure is not good…”
Ronaldo expects to ‘disappoint’ people with interview claims
“They criticise me when I don’t speak, of course, they’re going to criticise me when I do speak – even more.
“But it’s something that I can deal with. I know I’m going to be disappointing a few people. Maybe I’m going to make up a few people. But it is what it is.
“The life is completely difficult, we have obstacles in our lives. And I will keep running to fight against the people who don’t believe me. I want people to know they’re wrong.
“It’s hard, it’s hard for me to say that I will not be back to Manchester United. But regardless, as you say, it’s… let’s see what’s going to happen.”
‘Happy’ if Arsenal win Premier League
“Manchester first, and if not, Arsenal is a team that I like to see play.
“I like the team. I like the coach. I think they have a good team. And if Manchester United don’t win the Premier League, I will be happy if Arsenal do.”
‘Ferguson always on my side’
Speaking about support from former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
“I don’t speak with him [since] one month ago, but he’s always on my side. He always understands me. He knows that, he knows better than anybody that the club is not on the path they deserve to be. Everyone knows.
“The people who don’t see that is because they don’t want to see. The fans, they are always the answer, and the passion for the game. Manchester belongs to the fans, but they should know the truth. The infrastructure, they are not good. They should change.”
‘Messi is magic’
Speaking about Lionel Messi:
“Amazing player is magic, top… As a person, we share the stage [for] 16 years, imagine, 16 years. So, I have great relationship with him.
“I’m not [a] friend of him in terms of, a friend is the guy who was with you in your house, speaking on the phone, no, but it’s like a team-mate. He’s a guy that I really respect the way he always speak about me.”
‘I want to play until 40’
On the longevity of his career and whether he could still play top-flight football at 37-years-old:
“I want to play two years more, three years more. So two or three years maximum. I want to finish [at] 40. I think 40 will be a good age.
“But I don’t know, I don’t know the future. Sometimes you plan one thing for your life and as I told many times, life is dynamic. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Piers Morgan Uncensored: 90 Minutes with Ronaldo was on TalkTV on Wednesday and Thursday evening.
Neville: No way back for Ronaldo
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville says there is “no way back” for Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United after his explosive criticism of the club and manager Erik ten Hag, but insists he is not against his former team-mate.
Neville, who was himself criticised by Ronaldo during his interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, has told Sky Sports he cannot see the Portugal forward playing for the club again.
“No, and l don’t think he wants a way back,” Neville said. “He wouldn’t have done this interview if he wanted a way back. He knew it would bring the headlines it has and be the end of his Manchester United career.”
Manchester United have not yet indicated what action they may take following Ronaldo’s interview.
Neville added: “I’m wondering what Man Utd are doing because the reality of it is they know they have to terminate Cristiano’s contract or they basically open up a precedent so any player can criticise them in the future.”
Asked for his thoughts and whether he was against Ronaldo, Neville replied: “It’s not true, what he said, but all’s fair in love and war.
“I live in the game of criticism and know I have to accept it, and I get plenty of it back. I love all my team-mates I played with, including Cristiano.
“I’m not against Ronaldo – far from it. I couldn’t have any more admiration for him, I couldn’t have any more respect for him. He’s the greatest player I’ve ever seen and he’s the most talented player I ever played with.”