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CHRIS WHEELER: United’s ‘saviour’ is just a petulant PRIMA DONNA

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56487707 0 Image A 30 1649704705765.jpg
56487707 0 Image A 30 1649704705765.jpg

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‘The mature players, the older players, they can always help the young players. But I can give an example. If I give you advice, even if you are younger than me, if you don’t implant that during your daily life, it will be difficult.

‘But other people, they don’t accept that, if you criticise them. I don’t say this in relation to our players, but in general. I have kids. I know.’

When Cristiano Ronaldo was giving advice to Manchester United’s young players in a surprisingly outspoken interview in January, he probably did not realise the irony of his words.

Cristiano Ronaldo gave advice to United¿s young players in an outspoken interview in January

Cristiano Ronaldo gave advice to United’s young players in an outspoken interview in January

Ronaldo was too busy stressing the importance of self-improvement and a professional mind-set to realise that no one at United this season has behaved more immaturely than the 37-year-old himself.

For each of his 18 goals there has been a hissy fit, it seems, whether that is the numerous occasions Ronaldo has stormed down the tunnel at full time or the way he sits and sulks after being substituted, as he did at Brentford in January just days after his Sky Sports interview.

When he missed the Manchester derby in mysterious circumstances last month, United’s No 7 did not bother turning up at all.

But nothing compares to the moment at Everton on Saturday when Ronaldo slapped a mobile phone out of the hand of a 14-year-old autistic boy as he left the pitch following United’s 1-0 defeat.

He was heard stressing the importance of self-improvement and a professional mind-set

He was heard stressing the importance of self-improvement and a professional mind-set

As the time of the interview in January, he probably did not realise the irony of his words

As the time of the interview in January, he probably did not realise the irony of his words

According to his mother, Jacob Harding has been left severely shaken and with a bruised hand, not to mention the damage to his phone.

His crime was to point the camera at a cut on Ronaldo’s left leg. The player’s crime was an inexcusable over-reaction that is now the subject of a police investigation and an FA probe, despite his attempts to apologise over the weekend.

Merseyside Police confirmed on Monday that they have contacted the family and Everton as part of their inquiry.

‘The matter is under investigation and we are gathering information. Our enquiries remain ongoing at this time,’ a statement said.

Quite how Ronaldo would square his behaviour at Goodison with the image of a senior professional offering life coaching to United’s younger players is anyone’s guess. Like the man says, he has kids — four so far, with another set of twins on the way. He knows.

These were not the actions befitting a man approaching the end of his 30s and a role model to millions around the globe at one of the world’s biggest clubs.

Footage has since emerged of Ronaldo appearing to smash a mobile phone out of the hand of a fan after Manchester United's 1-0 defeat by Everton at Goodison Park

Footage has since emerged of Ronaldo appearing to smash a mobile phone out of the hand of a fan after Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat by Everton at Goodison Park

Merseyside Police confirmed on Monday that they have contacted the family and Everton as part of an inquiry

Merseyside Police confirmed on Monday that they have contacted the family and Everton as part of an inquiry

Neither is this how it was meant to pan out for Ronaldo when he received a hero’s homecoming at United last summer. He came back to be a saviour, not a petulant prima donna.

What happened on Saturday actually had very little to do with Jacob Harding and everything to do with the frustration Ronaldo feels about the state of the club with whom he achieved so much in his first spell. Rumours began circulating shortly after his return that he was shocked at how far standards had slipped at United in the 12 years he had been away and that much was evident in his interview.

On Saturday, emotions got the better of him and an innocent teenage boy was unfortunate enough to be in his way.

This is what life at the modern-day Manchester United can do to a player, certainly a serial winner and fierce competitor such as Ronaldo. Zlatan Ibrahimovic quickly came to a similar conclusion after arriving in 2016.

They are just two of the star names who have passed this way and found themselves incapable of arresting a slump that began close to a decade ago. Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Bastian Schweinsteiger, the list goes on.

Even Ronaldo — five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, record goalscorer Ronaldo — cannot use his waning powers to stop the rot.

Defeat by Everton means United’s hopes of Champions League qualification are fading fast, not that they can be considered serious contenders for the biggest prize any more. The Europa League or, God forbid, the Europa Conference League is looming large.

Sarah Kelly posted this message at the weekend showing pictures of her son's bruised hand

Ronaldo pictured at Goodison Park during the match

Sarah Kelly wrote this message (left) on social media showing photos of her son’s bruised hand

Ronaldo has since taken to social media to apologise for his 'outburst' after he appeared to knock an Everton fan's phone out of their hand as he walked down the tunnel at Goodison Park

Ronaldo has since taken to social media to apologise for his ‘outburst’ after he appeared to knock an Everton fan’s phone out of their hand as he walked down the tunnel at Goodison Park

The club will embark on a major rebuild this summer under a new manager, but it will take time and Ronaldo knows time is not on his side.

Even if he stays for another season — and there is no guarantee that will be the case — the chances of closing the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool are remote at best.

And that is what is eating away at Ronaldo: the knowledge that United are second rate and there is nothing he can do about it.

None of which excuses what happened at Goodison Park, of course. The police and FA will complete their enquiries and Ronaldo will have to accept any consequences that come his way.

But the next time he tries to offer pearls of wisdom to his younger team-mates, he should not be surprised if they choose to look elsewhere for a role model.

CRISTIANO RONALDO’S FORM AT MAN UNITED 2021 VS 2022

Year 

Games Played

Games Started

Minutes Played

Goals

Mins/Goal

Total Shots* 

Total Shots per 90

Shots on Target

Shots on Target per 90

Shot Conversion Rate*

Expected Goals

Expected Goals per 90

Assists

Chances Created**

Chances Created per 90

Passes

Passes per 90

Passing Accuracy

Touches in the Opp Box

Touches in the Opp Box per 90

2021

20 

18

1638

14

117.0

75

4.1

32

1.8

18.7

12.8

0.7

3

20

1.1

553

30.4

81.2

118                                            

6.5

2022

13

12

1101

4

275.3

46

3.8

17

1.4

8.7

6.8

0.6

0

13

1.1

358

29.3

84.6

81

6.6

*Including blocks

**Including assists 



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