On Saturday night, former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo shone brightly for Portugal, lifting his nation to a resounding 3-0 win over Turkey in their Euro 2024 group stage clash. He provided an assist to none other than Bruno Fernandes to seal the third and final goal of the evening.

Already 39 years of age, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner showed that he still has plenty of energy left in the tank, even if he lacks the consistency of his youth. This may cause some Man United fans to wonder if parting ways with Ronaldo was indeed the right move for the club, especially after he rescued United by scoring 24 goals in the 2021/22 season.

In a reflective piece about Ronaldo’s relationship with his former managers, The Athletic observed that one of the key factors of success when it came to managing the Portuguese icon was to “fluff his ego” and make him feel special as, after all, he is.

The article then referred to the managers who did this, pointing to the success that Sir Alex Ferguson attained by getting the best out of Ronaldo.

“Cristiano Ronaldo was the most gifted player I managed,” Ferguson admitted in his autobiography. “He surpassed all the other great ones I coached at United. And I had many.”

From supporting Ronaldo after his father’s passing in 2005 to taking the then-teenager’s side after he was shoved by United veteran Ruud van Nistelrooy after not passing to him on the training field, it’s clear that Ferguson truly meant what he said. Sadly, things would not always be this rosy.

During his final season at United, Ronaldo’s attitude changed, the article noted. Having reacted badly after being subbed off early against Manchester City, Ronaldo appeared visibly frustrated, with Sir Alex simply stating after the match that, “You cannot get everything your own way.”

By the time Ronaldo returned to United for a second spell in 2021, it appeared as if he had returned just in time to take Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad to the next level, especially after his successful tenures at Real Madrid and Juventus. Sadly, Solskjaer was unable to overcome his team’s struggles and he was sacked. It became evident early on that Ronaldo had less respect for interim manager Ralf Rangnick and his successor, Erik ten Hag.

Clearly, Ten Hag was not interested in giving Ronaldo the star treatment he had become so accustomed to over the years, and upon receiving less playing time, he wasn’t ashamed to make his feelings known.

During a pre-season friendly with Rayo Vallecano, Ronaldo left the field in frustration after Ten Hag decided to substitute him early in the second half, driving home straight after leaving the field. Sadly, this sort of protest had become a trend with the Portuguese star.

When Ten Hag decided to bring on Ronaldo with just minutes to go in United’s 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, the Portuguese forward refused to come on, instead choosing to storm down the tunnel. He was then omitted from the subsequent match against Chelsea and did not participate in first-team training.

Once again, Ronaldo allowed ego to break down his relationship with his manager and club at large, and what followed was his infamous interview with Piers Morgan, where he criticised Ten Hag and emphasised the decline of the club since Sir Alex’s departure.

Sadly, Ten Hag came to accept that Ronaldo’s time at Old Trafford was done, with any potential future contributions from him no longer on the table. “He wanted to leave, it was quite clear. And when a player definitely doesn’t want to be in this club, then he has to go,” the Dutch manager admitted, despite wanting Ronaldo to stay at the club.

“The interview — as a club, you can’t accept. To make that step, he knew the consequences,” Ten Hag unapologetically declared, and rightly so.

While Ronaldo’s talent has certainly stood the test of time and he has no doubt played a major role in much of United’s glory in the early 21st century, his inflated ego is what makes him unmanageable, especially with Ten Hag at the helm.

As United look to the future with Ineos and Ten Hag leading the overhaul that the club desperately needs, there is no room for selfish behaviour or players who feel that they are bigger than the rest of the club.

So even as Ronaldo continues to produce admirable performances on occasion and United suffer a striker shortage, it’s important to remember that more locker-room drama is the last thing that the Red Devils need.

Ronaldo has sadly burned bridges with United, particularly due to his inappropriate interview. While he may put on the occasional impressive showing at Euro 2024, it’s important to remember his past behaviour and understand why United are better off without him.

While he could certainly be thanked and appreciated for his many contributions over the years, Ronaldo’s time at United is best left in the past, particularly as the club enters a new era where Ineos are focused on building a young, ambitious side capable of developing a bright long-term future.

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