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22nd Oct 2022

Rio Ferdinand’s defence of Cristiano Ronaldo on BT Sport was beyond embarrassing

Lee Costello

“Like it or not, he’s Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Rio Ferdinand has just defended Cristiano Ronaldo’s embarrassing decision to leave Old Trafford early against Tottenham, and even blamed Erik ten Hag for not putting preventative measures in place.

Imagine being the manager of Manchester United – an iconic football club, a global powerhouse in the world of sport – and apparently one of your top responsibilities is making sure that 37-year-old men don’t throw tantrums.

Speaking on BT Sport, self-delusion was oozing out of the former United defender, who was caught between not wanting to offend Ronaldo, and not sounding like he was agreeing with his petulant behaviour.

Rio Ferdinand Cristiano Ronaldo

“I think there’s two ways to look at it and I don’t condone it for one moment, but there’s always another side to the story, and I think communication hasn’t been as clear as maybe he wanted.

“People say ‘ah but you’re a player’ but when you’re dealing with someone like Cristiano Ronaldo; like it or not, he’s Cristiano Ronaldo, he’s the greatest footballer to ever play football alongside Messi.

“So sometimes the way they’re treated is a little bit different from everyone else, it was the same under Fergie. I think all the way through his career he’s probably had that communication; how the game is going to look, how his minutes are going to look.

“This is the first point in his life where that’s not probably upheld by the manager, or the club, and he’s in a position where ‘I don’t know what I’m at.’

“I’m not saying he was right in his decision, and his statement after says that as well [hmm, does it?], but at the same time you can always say, for every other player, it’s okay ‘you’re one of the team’, but there are special players sometimes in a squad that things do work differently for.

“By the way, not only is he an iconic player, and iconic with all the stuff he has done, I think it’s important for the team to have that as well, that it’s communicated, so that he’s fresh, he’s ready, he’s able to play.”

Rio Ferdinand Cristiano Ronaldo

Well, that was a stuttering mess worthy of an underpaid defence lawyer who is way out of his depth, but thankfully Peter Crouch was also there to offer some common sense – I mean, his opinion.

“It’s the manager’s prerogative who he plays and who he doesn’t, it’s not the player’s prerogative. No player can sit on the side and say ‘I’m not coming on’.

“I don’t care who you are, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best players we have ever seen in the game, but you’re a player at the end of the day.

“You have to have a manager, and you have a board in place, who makes decisions on who plays and who doesn’t. As a player you cannot take that decision to not come on.”

There you go, debate over surely, you can’t really argue with that… or so you would think.

“I think he (Ronaldo) will say the same thing. He will handle it differently next time,” said Ferdinand, despite the fact that the Portugal captain has been involved in several incidents like this and seems to be getting worse at handling them – not better.

“‘Communicate with me so I can prepare the week, and I can be ready for the weekend,'” continued the United legend, speaking on behalf of his former teammate.

“‘Throwing me five minutes here and two minutes there is… It was disrespectful against Man City to bring me on for a few minutes, so why is it now not disrespectful?'”

Erm – because against Man City you were losing 6-3 and against Spurs you were winning the game, and playing your best football all season.

Rio Ferdinand Cristiano Ronaldo

“I think prevention for these situations is always key. Foresee this happening, before it happens, and communicate that to the player.”

Perhaps keeping snacks near the bench to avoid Ronaldo getting hungry could be an option here, or maybe a Nintendo Switch to stop him getting him bored?

The answers are there ten Hag, just use your head for God’s sake!

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