‘Kind of confrontation’ – Gary Neville breaks down why ‘frustrated’ ex-Man United star left Old Trafford
Gary Neville has opened up on why he criticised Cristiano Ronaldo and how his ex-teammate “should have modified” himself for his second spell at Manchester United.
Ronaldo, who was linked with Manchester City in 2021, completed a blockbuster return to Old Trafford after the Red Devils paid Juventus a £12.8m transfer fee.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner made an impact in his first season back at United, with Ronaldo scoring 24 times in 38 appearances across all competitions.
However, Ronaldo’s second run at United came to a disappointing end after a falling out with current Red Devils manager Erik ten Hag in the 2022-23 season.
The 38-year-old United legend was spotted leaving the bench and walking out of Old Trafford before the full-time whistle in his side’s 2-0 win over Tottenham.
Ronaldo was subsequently dropped by Ten Hag for the Chelsea match, with the Al Nassr captain later launching a scathing public attack on the United boss.
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Neville on Ronaldo’s second spell
Ronaldo took aim at the likes of former United teammate Neville and Ten Hag in his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV in 2022.
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The Portugal skipper’s contract with United was later terminated by “mutual agreement” before Ronaldo completed his move to Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca, Neville insisted that Ronaldo needed to ‘adapt and modify’ his leadership style during his second stint at United.
The Sky Sports pundit added that the Al Nassr forward could have inspired United players who “needed mentoring, training and levelling up.”
“I think he did very well in terms of goals. He has a character and a personality in which he does not accept second parts,” Neville said.
“I criticised him because my opinion is that when you are a leader in the locker room and you are a leader in world football there are different ways of teaching, different ways of mentoring and different ways of coaching the younger players on the team who are not at your level.
“I think Cristiano should have modified and adapted his leadership style at United to the players in the locker room who needed mentoring, training and levelling up.”
Neville claims Ronaldo became ‘frustrated‘
Along with Neville and Ten Hag, Ronaldo pulled no punches towards the likes of ex-teammate Wayne Rooney and controversial United owners the Glazer family.
The Real Madrid legend also had no love lost for former United interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who took charge of the club after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal.
Neville admitted that it became “visible” that Ronaldo was “angry” and the entire situation with him at United “became a kind of confrontation” in the end.
“Cristiano got frustrated with them, he got angry with them and that was visible sometimes during the games and, in the end, it became a kind of confrontation,” he added.
“I have played with him; he has an incredible level and has worked as hard as any other player I have played with. Everything you see in Cristiano is talent and hard work.
“He wants to win, he is desperate to win, he wants to score goals and he wants to be the best player in the world, so I think it has been difficult for him, maybe because he has reached the end of his career in teams that did not have the level that he had seen before.”