Self before side, every time: Cristiano Ronaldo’s point lost amid the startling vanity…

Ian Watson
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Man Utd.

The Mailbox reckons Cristiano Ronaldo made some valid points but the medium renders them moot. Also: the change Everton so desperately need.

Get your views in to

Vanity project
I’m clearly half a day or so late with my reaction to the Ronaldo guff, but the story broke a little late for me to properly pore over on Sunday night (heavy weekend) and I wanted to put my thoughts in order this morning to some extent.

Straight out the gate, I can’t escape how surreal it all feels. As a United fan, I’ve always been conflicted on the sort of regard to hold Ronaldo in. For all the positive impact he had in his first spell at the club, I’ve never been able to escape the narcissism and petulance that he regularly displays on the pitch. That bled through in spectacular fashion last night.

The issues with that interview are many and varied, not least the fact that it was given to a phone hacking former Britain’s Got Talent judge. Bessie mates or not, that sets a bizarre tone from the off. But why stop there? Doing away with any shred of self-awareness? Check. Burning every bridge in sight? Check. Taking startlingly immature pot shots at former team mates for voicing their (correct) opinions? Check.

It’s been clear for a long time that Ronaldo had transitioned from a footballer to a vanity project, prioritising personal accolades and scoring records over the good of the team for half a decade at this point. If the team’s successes aligned with his own, then great. Otherwise, fingers got pointed at the lesser beings he had to share a pitch with. Their fault, obviously. How dare they subject him to their mediocrity while Messi played with 10 world beaters and nabbed his lovely Ballon D’Or twice every 3 years.

This season’s reality check can’t have been easy for a man of his ego and self-regard. Calling the club out for its shortcomings is a clear response to his own rotten form, raging against the dying of the light as he descends to the level of those players he loved to scorn after misplaced passes or fluffed chances. Everybody knows United need change at the top, he’s not telling anyone anything they don’t know already. But there are a host of players who inhabit the same environment as him each day and are performing just fine, thanks very much.

So he can wail all he wants – he’s been conclusively outmanouvered by Erik Ten Hag (playing a blinder on this matter) at every juncture since the aborted transfer request in the summer. Any United fans who don’t back the manager in this (and there are inevitably plenty) are embarrassing themselves by association.

As a final observation, I’ve found that my foremost impression of Ronaldo has shifted over the years and taken a further hit on Monday morning. There was a time when hearing his name mentioned brought memories of his free-kick against Portsmouth. That seemed to sum up what he’d brought to the game in his first 5-6 seasons.

But now, sitting here typing this, I can only view him as the tw*t that tried to nick an open goal from Higuain for Madrid, clumsily tripped him up in the process and cocked up the chance, then had the gall to throw his arm up to shift the blame. THAT’s the guy that gave that interview last night, put on full display. It’s sad, and stupid, and he deserves every negative reaction that comes his way.
Keith Reilly (type “Higuain Ronaldo Osasuna” into Youtube if you don’t know the clip I’m on about)


Why Ronaldo is like he is
I had a friend that become moderately famous. At one stage you would probably have recognised him. He’s a decent bloke, but having knowing him before the celebrity arrived, it was interesting to observe the impact. And he was nowhere near the world wide fame of Ronaldo.

When we went out, in Manchester, people wanted to talk to him, pointed him out and bought him drinks. I was his sidekick. At one bar a girl tried to snog him, and I noticed a guy with a camera, ready to take a pic, I stepped in between them, and he was frustrated. Luckily I am 6-4 and can pretend to be tough, the Belfast accent helping.

I did some work with him, and the impact was visible there too. No one would say no to him. Ideas that he rejected were binned immediately, even though they were good, and his talent was not in that area, his opinion was given prominence. My skill in that area of work was ignored.

And that started to affect him. He started to believe that his opinion on anything at all was more worthwhile than anyone else. No matter what topic.

Imagine being Ronaldo. It is impossible, but you can see that he is all-powerful.. Lackies are there to fawn over him, and people who are not lackies quickly adapt when faced with the sheer luminosity of his fame. No one will say no. Getting a smile from him is like being washed in reflected glory. You will tell your grandkids about meeting Ronaldo.

And then EVT says no.

And all hell breaks loose.


Ronaldo had a point
Firstly, Ronaldo is an absolute idiot for giving the interview in the format he did, especially trying to bring Erik ten Hag into it. Because, in the words of The Dude, “you’re not wrong, Walter. You’re just an asshole.” Ronaldo is right about the state of the club’s management, he’s right about the lack of investment, he’s right about the lack of evolution since SAF retired (maybe even before then to be honest!). There is a reason why Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, Bayern Munich stay at the top and continue to win things even when coaches come and go or they have a poor season. They have smart people at the top who might drop the ball, but then they work to fix it. At United, under the Glazers, too often it’s been a shitshow promenade of shitting on the floor and brushing it under an expensive carpet in the shape of a new player. The problem with that is, the smell and the shit remains and eventually there’s a lot of shit under the carpets.

It’s no secret at all that the Glazers have been skimming money off the top for themselves at the expense of the club and its facilities – it’s their business, they can do this, but this is a harder sell when we’ve got a leaky stadium and we’re falling ever behind our rivals and now clubs like Newcastle will be investing serious money into training facilities, academies, the stadium etc. So to that extent, I do agree in a way that Ronaldo was right to say something about that. If anyone has the clout and standing and experience to publicly air dirty laundry about the state of the club since he left, it’s him. And he’s right to say that if he doesn’t say anything about it, nothing will change; nothing has changed since he left and that’s not for the lack of people like me, journalists and football pundits decrying the lack of investment into Manchester United’s facilities. If insanity is trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results, this is at least intent to do something different, in a way the Manchester United owners can’t ignore. Perhaps it can be Ronaldo’s one last service to us as a club. Publicly shaming the owners into investing into the club or taking one for the team as they clamp down on him Putin style to cover up their own failings.

This said, his criticisms of ETH are out of line. His song and dance about how the club are trying to force him out when it’s very publicly documented that his agent was touting him around to every club he thought might be interested in him over the summer; that he missed pre-season, possibly with some real circumstances to deal with but given the circus around him it’s hard not to understand this was a pretence and he just simply thought he was too big to go on tour; that he pissed off out of the stadium before the whistle had blown against Rayo, and then left the field against Spurs when we were playing out best game of the ETH era. So in reality, anyone who isn’t a fanboi can see that Ronaldo is the party trying to get away, not the other way round and anyone reasonable can see that ETH has a) done all he reasonably can to accommodate him b) picked the best teams he can for games c) is actually doing better than people expected him to at this point. So to say publicly he has no respect for ETH (under the guise of “he has no respect for me”) is ludicrous, massively disrespectful and alienating to a lot of fans – even fans like me who thought keeping Ronaldo at the club had some value. Now I’d quite like to see him shipped off to a club outside of the Premier League so we can be rid of the circus and his salary, and it’s such a shame he’s tainted his own legacy at the club this way.

And the shame of it is, it didn’t have to be this way (Ronaldo’s bizarre psychology aside). Had he accepted his diminished role within the first team with grace and worked with ETH and the coaches to bring through talent like Garnacho, to help players like Martial and Rashford with their finishing, to guide players like Luke Shaw on what their lifestyle should be like off-field, he probably would have been the boon to the club that some thought he could be. At the end of his contract he’d have glowing reviews and he could have moved on as someone willing to contribute. He could still have given the interview about the state of the club and the Glazers, and most people would have listened to the truth of what he was saying about the lack of investment and development in the club instead of the very blatant disrespect to the manager and his team mates. And perhaps, by doing that, would have got ETH the investment into the squad and the facilities that he needs and the fans would be on Ronaldo’s side vs the Glazers.

Obviously for Ronaldo’s ego, this was never possible but it’s such a shame.
Daniel, Cambridge


Off you f***
Good day people, I thought I would give you my thoughts on the Ronaldo mess.
Firstly, we always knew he had a massive ego and has never been about the team always about himself, what doesn’t help is now at 37 years old he still has people like Morgan, Ferdinand, Keane and others blowing smoke up his arse telling him he’s still the “goat” and United are disrespecting him etc.
Ronaldo is 37 years old and in a massive decline, last season he scored goals but at the detriment to the team, he talks of being disrespected by the Manager a man who covered for him when absent pre-season, a man who said he had permission to leave when he flounced out of the stadium before the match had ended and a man who when Ronaldo refused to come on as a sub forgave him and gave him another chance. The only disrespect being shown is by a manchild who thinks he is still 25 years old and in his prime, when in reality he is not at the required level to compete in the premier league, he has lost his pace, he misses more than 2 or 3 chances a game when he does play and he stifles other players around him with people like Bruno retreating into some sort of hero worshiping shell. Giving an interview is all well and good and if he just used the platform to highlight what the Glazers have done regarding the club then fine United fans would have applauded him but the thing is he mentioned them but doesn’t care, he cares about one thing and one thing only Cristiano Ronaldo, if he could shag himself he would and tell everyone he was the best shag ever.
So summing up, you missed pre-season, flounced out of the stadium mid game and refused to come on as a sub but the worse thing you did was speak to that odious piece of shit Morgan and the filthy rag the Sun, the paper that tried to destroy an entire City in Liverpool, so spare us all your sanctimonious bleating and bugger off to Saudi or the USA and fleece them for a few more quid, at least the Ronaldo fanboys will follow you.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


Portugal’s problem
How will Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot feel when the Portugal squad meet up and their teammate and talisman has just bashed their club.

Will never happen but imagine Fernando Santos grew a pair and decided it would be better for squad harmony to send Ronaldo home. I think that would hurt Cristiano more than anything.

That would be hilarious.
Graeme, Glasgow

Frank Lampard apologises to supporters after Everton lose at Bournemouth.

Everton back in the mire
Well, I wasn’t far off. Everton resumed its place in the Losers column a F365 this past weekend and it was thoroughly deserved. Every damn bit of it. Bournemouth simply played, well, simply and cut us apart. I understand Frank is in for a thrashing in the press and yes, some of that is deserved too but as an Evertonian, this is down to two main groups. The owners and the players. The players are too easy and frankly, they’ve come and gone, so I’ll focus on the one constant through all of this. I’ll focus on Moshiri & Kenwright.

I’ve been supporting Everton since 2000, and the end of Walter Smith’s reign. David Moyes (yes, he also of this past week’s Losers column) and righted the ship and got “plucky little Everton” to punch above it’s weight with very little to spend. Fantastic purchases like Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta were great signings of the era while we still had a few hiccups Since Moyes has left, it’s been nothing but a conveyor belt of one bad manager after the next. The only manager who did decent for us was Ancelotti and even he saw the writing on the wall (and it was Madrid who came after him, who could blame him?) and moved on to unarguably better heights. In case you need a refresher of the dross and recycled crap we’ve been through (not including interim Duncan Ferguson) since Moyes left:


What’s the common denominator? Farhad Moshiri for all but Martinez. Yes, we needed a owner with money, yes we needed to get ourselves to push on from midtable, and yes, we needed rid of Kenwright. Well Kenwright is still around and other than a shiny new stadium, Moshiri has driven us into the ground with a toxic rot at Finch Farm that is almost all but impossible to destroy. The damage from his hires of Koeman and DOF Walsh is STILL being felt to this day in the profit and loss ledger. There are a lot of us who say we need to just start over and build from the ground up with someone new. That may be the case but that would, short of a new moneybags owner, happen from the Championship level or lower. If we go down, we wouldn’t be coming back up for quite a while. Think Forest, Leeds, or worse, Blackburn, Sunderland, or Huddersfield. That could easily be us if, when this happens.

Moshiri has spent an untold amount of money on players at Everton and this is what he has to show for it. Nothing. Absolutely nothing on the pitch other than a relegation battle last season and the probability of another one this season. We can’t keep doing this. We just can’t and I’m afraid that if Moshiri doesn’t cut his losses and move on (why would he with a brand new stadium?) that he’ll be the catalyst that puts us in the Championship for good. By the way, be glad I didn’t list the players we’ve bought over the past six years and the money we’ve spent on them. The list is too long and absolutely embarrassing.

TX Bill (Are there three teams worse than us? I’m not so sure) EFC

Read more: Everton and Frank Lampard slip back into a familiarly tetchy place for the winter break

Coaching cost
A thought on Tom’s question about the disparity of the coaches produced in England, there are obviously many reasons why but a large contributing factor is the expense of doing coaching badges which makes it hard for regular people to get to the elite coaching level.

This is why we end up with so many ex-pros as managers. They have the time and money and most importantly the connections. In other countries it isn’t as prohibitive due to cost of doing the coaching badges which gives opportunity to people involved at lower levels.

Just my two cents
Dan, Belfast MUFC
P.S. Ronaldo is a bell-end


Pub or Palace?
Easily the best decision of the weekend was the one I made to sack off the football and go on a pub crawl round Nottingham on Saturday afternoon. Eight pubs, 22 beers tried, and one massive hangover watching the cricket on Sunday morning.

*Shout out to everyone on the school run this morning who asked me what the score was, treatment they presumably didn’t give themselves the other week when Nottingham Forest beat Liverpool. Because they support both teams.

*Put simply, Crystal Palace fielded their strongest possible team and didn’t show up. That said, a win for the Tricky Trees (in a football match, not a cringey nickname competition) was nailed on before kickoff. According to Opta, Palace have recovered 12 points from losing positions, the same number as Forest had dropped from winning positions – a home win was a cert.

*Steve Cooper’s side have taken a few licks this season, not least from amateur observational comedians noticing they signed a lot of players this summer. However, beyond the heavy defeats they have played well at times, their results against Liverpool and Palace show they can more than hold their own against midtable teams.

They’re part of what makes this season quite remarkable. Usually there is one promoted side who look a step below everyone else. Norwich City, I believe they’re called. This year, there doesn’t appear to be anyone like that, all three seem to be holding their own, and while none are completely out of the woods, they’ve been good enough to make several of last season’s lower order clubs be a bit twitchy.

*Does anyone else feel like there have been more players suspended for accumulation of yellow cards this season than there would have been at the equivalent number of games in previous years?

*The only teams Manchester City have lost to in the league this season are Liverpool and Brentford, whose sole common ground is having O as their antepenultimate letter. As there are 15 teams in the EFL who share this (12 of whom are Towns), Pep Guardiola could be a bit twitchy when the FA Cup draws are made. While wanting to avoid the Reds in the Champions League is an obvious sentiment, there’s also the possibility Napoli could prove this rule.

*If I didn’t want people to think I’d had a massive flounce out of my job, I’d probably give an interview to a different TV presenter. One with viewers, perhaps.
Ed Quoththeraven


Nev and Le Tiss
I agreed with Aston Taylor’s overall point, the Ronald’s professionalism is not as laudable as some would say, but his comparisons I found a bit odd. He has Gary Neville as the (false) epitome of loyalty because he stay at Man United when they were winning things so it was easy.

Maybe I missed it but I never remember any speculation around Neville moving to a new club. It just wouldn’t have worked. As a player, he showed just how much important determination, drive and hard work in the right environment were because, by his own admission, he was an average player. But he gave everything for his team and for Ferguson. That were the loyalty was. He even retired the moment he realised he was not an asset to the team.

As for Le Tissier. Look he has tarnished his reputation somewhat but I never associated his career with sacrifice. He didn’t sacrifice trophies to stay at Southampton, he stayed at Southampton because he was the big fish in the small pond. The big fish who didn’t have to run or tackle or track back. The big fish who could have quiet stretches, and then dominate a few games while smashing in several goal of the season contenders. Le Tissier was an example of how far supreme talent without hard work would get you, in the right environment. He was gifted, with a highlight real that kept the fans smiling when he was off form, and from what I can remember, it was an open secret that Le Tiss was quite happy with the setup, being the local hero and playing the game the way he wanted to.

Both had enviable, very different careers that show there was more than one way to way to have a career in football. That said, I’m not sure either would have the same career now. Would neville make it through the modern academy system? Teams can’t really accommodate a Le Tiss anymore, not at the top level.
Kev (main point is that Ronaldo is a dose)

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