Cristiano Ronaldo felt “provoked” by Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag into walking off the bench against Tottenham and leaving Old Trafford before the full-time whistle as his relationship with the club deteriorated.
In his headline-grabbing interview with TalkTV which has been released over the last few days, the Portugal forward has criticised United, hit out at former team-mates and said Red Devils owners the Glazer family do not care about the club.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also said he did not respect Dutchman Ten Hag, who took over at Old Trafford in the summer, and claimed a number of individuals at United were trying to push him to leave.
In Thursday night’s second instalment of the full interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored, Ronaldo gave further details of how he felt he had been “betrayed” as his return to United turned sour.
Amid speculation over whether he would be departing United over the summer, Ronaldo and other players left a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano before full-time – something new boss Ten Hag had labelled “unacceptable”.
In October, Ronaldo was a substitute for the 2-0 home win over Tottenham and later walked off the bench before leaving the stadium, with Ten Hag saying the 37-year-old had refused to come on during the final few minutes.
Ronaldo – who did not feature for the next Premier League match against Chelsea – claimed his reaction had been a result of Ten Hag’s comments about not wanting to send him on for the closing stages of the humiliating 6-3 defeat to rivals Manchester City.
“You don’t put me on against Manchester City because of respect for my career and you want to put me on for three minutes against Tottenham? It doesn’t make sense,” Ronaldo said.
“I think he did it on purpose. I felt provoked not only because of that game, but before. He doesn’t respect (me) the way I should deserve.
“But it is what it is. This is why probably, the game against Tottenham, I left.”
Ronaldo, who is currently on World Cup duty with Portugal, added: “I think it was a strategy from the club for me to react that way.
“I was very, very, very, very disappointed for the communication of Manchester United.
“To be honest, I never had a problem with any club, with any coach. And they suspend me three days, which I felt was a lot – and the level of sport, clubs, I felt a lot. It was a shame.”
Ronaldo, though, did regret leaving the stadium early.
“It’s difficult to tell you 100 per cent, but let’s say I regret (it), but in the same way I felt provoked by the coach,” he said.
“Not allowed for me, a coach to put me in three minutes in a game. Sorry, I’m not that kind of player. I know what I can give to teams.”
Ronaldo felt the club did not offer him full support to make the most of his second spell at Old Trafford.
“When I arrived at Manchester United, I always be available to help the team to do the good things, to put in the right spots, to compete with the best teams,” he said.
“But it’s hard when they cut your legs and they don’t like you to shine and they don’t listen to your advice.
“I think I have words to advise to the club. I think I can help a lot, but when the infrastructure is not good…”
Would have been more useful 3 months ago (when my tweet was sent) when the team were in dire trouble than after the last game before a 6 week break but like I said in my interview I’m happy he’s spoken out. https://t.co/Fg9zp5OtV5
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) November 17, 2022
Former United team-mate Gary Neville had also been criticised by Ronaldo during his interview
Neville, who is now a media pundit, said on Thursday that United should cancel Ronaldo’s contract in the next few days.
Reflecting on his future, Ronaldo told TalkTV: “It is hard for me to say that I will not be back to Manchester United, but regardless, as you say, let’s see what’s going to happen.
“But as I told you before, the fans for me always will be on my side, will be always in my heart.”
:: Watch ‘Piers Morgan Uncensored: 90 Minutes with Ronaldo ’ at 8pm on Thursday on TalkTV.