Cristiano Ronaldo chose his words carefully as he expressed his dissatisfaction with Manchester United’s results this season.
Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford in the summer to win titles, but the Premier League challenge never began, so his comments, upon meeting him earlier this week, were not surprising.
Ronaldo was a candid, honest but somewhat politician-like talker as he made his way through that Sky Sports interview. His love for the club was also evident throughout.
Ronaldo spoke like a club captain. He said what he needed without naming individuals and his words were not empty.
It was refreshing after months of empty apologies and PR-driven written interviews from some of the players at United.
Although Ronaldo’s comments were somewhat diplomatic, his message to those underperforming in United’s dressing room was clear enough, as he made clear his desire for United to be the best.
“Manchester United must win the league or finish second or third,” Ronaldo said.
“I don’t see other positions for Manchester United, frankly, I don’t. In my opinion, I do not accept that our mentality is less than being in the top three.” Ronaldo’s comments in the interview were not on par with Roy Keane’s infamous comments to MUTV in 2005 but they caused a similar amount of headlines.
When Ronaldo speaks, you listen. His achievements in sport have earned him that respect, and sometimes it takes courage to disagree with these powerful members of society, but Wayne Rooney has that right too and he has fallen out with Ronaldo.
Rooney was fiery and explosive as a player. It is systematic and measured as a manager. When asked about Ronaldo’s comments on United finishing in the top three in the Premier League, there was no emotion from Rooney. His voice remained steady and his face expressionless. You wouldn’t know he was connected to the club until he shared his thoughts on the matter.
Rooney said: “Manchester United should be one of the best teams, not the top three, and I think those are the demands the fans are putting on you, the demands of this club. Of course, they are going through a very difficult period. At this minute.”
“But make no mistake, this is a club that has to win trophies. It has to win trophies.” Rooney said what Ronaldo might have wanted to say. His comments were also what United supporters wanted to hear. It probably wasn’t a coincidence.
Rooney is at the beginning of his managerial career but it is expected that his ultimate ambition in his new career is to manage United in the future. While this prospect has held for years, Rooney has had a great start in management.
It’s a shame that Rooney has been more a firefighter than a coach so far at the Derby.
Rooney was appointed as permanent manager of the derby in January last year and inherited the club that had been battling relegation. The club miraculously maintained its place in the championship on the last day of the season, but the celebrations won’t last long.
Derby was placed under a transfer ban in July, and the club then entered into management two months later. There has been no respite for Rooney and this without mentioning Derby has a 21-point deduction to beat this season.
Relegation once seemed like the biggest threat to Derby, but it pales in importance to the prospect of extinction. Most would walk away from the impossible job that Rooney didn’t do. Instead, Churchill was in the face of severe adversity.
Rooney has paid nearly all of his out-of-the-club travel expenses out of his own pocket and his obligation to the club is in an unwavering free fall. Derby is now also only 12 points away from safety despite the 21 point deduction that was imposed on it.
Derby has 21 games left this season, and it’s not far from the possibility that they could pull off one of the greatest escapes ever in football, however, regardless of their fate, Rooney is the man responsible for keeping the show going at Pride Park.
When Rooney finally manages a stable environment, it will be possible to fully judge his identity and his tactical mind.
Rooney’s derby nightmare will serve him well in his future endeavours, and who knows, it could be in United’s years to come.
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