Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville says Cristiano Ronaldo’s time at Old Trafford is nearing a ‘messy end’.
Neville and ex-United team-mate Roy Keane were involved in a heated discussion about the Portuguese on Saturday night, during Sky Sports’ coverage of the team’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Ronaldo played no part in the game in west London on Saturday after he was punished by United manager Erik ten Hag for refusing to come off the bench as a late substitute against Tottenham on Wednesday and leaving the stadium early.
“For me, Erik ten Hag had no choice, no option,” Neville said. “Cristiano’s left the ground twice, you can’t do that, his Instagram post which said I respect my team-mates and sometimes in the heat of the moment you do something wrong.
“On the eve of pre-season, he asked for a transfer, he’s building up a list of things. It’s a messy end and Ten Hag is trying to establish control.”
And Neville believes Ronaldo will either have to accept his reduced role or go to a smaller side where he can be guaranteed first-team football.
“Your career’s like a mountain, you’re in for a few games, out the team, get in then you get to the top of the mountain then you have to accept whether you play for a big club and accept less games,” he said.
“Or you go to a lesser club and play all the time and Cristiano is going to have to go to somewhere else that’s going to play him every week because he can’t accept being on the bench. That’s fine.
“End it this week or create a truce to get to the World Cup, it’s not doing him any favours. Leaving the dressing room before full-time, that’s not what he does, if you’re doing things like that you’ve got to leave.”
Keane stuck up for the Portuguese, but did admit that his time at United looked to be nearing an end.
“Ronaldo came to Man United when he was 17, we loved him, we loved him everything about him because he wanted to be the best. Simple as that,” he said.
“He had his critics then because he was going over quickly, end product, but what I love about Ronaldo now, he’s 37, he’s had enough, he snapped, he’s 37 and still wants to be the best in the world and that’s why I admire him.”
Both Neville and former Chelsea striker Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink said they thought United were a better team without Ronaldo.
“Do you not think they’re better without him? Come on,” Neville said. And he added: “I think they’re better without him.”
Hasselbaink replied: “I don’t think they can carry him. They can’t carry him.”
Keane did not agree, though. “In the starting 11? No, I wouldn’t say that,” he replied.
Later, Neville posted an Instagram story. “Did me and Jimmy win that?’ he asked. “Roy is not a happy man!”