Louis Saha thinks Man Utd star Cristiano Ronaldo and former Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard have not had “the support or respect they deserve”.
The Portugal international spent much of the summer attempting to leave Old Trafford after the Red Devils failed to qualify for the Champions League.
A lack of interest in his services saw him remain at Man Utd for the beginning of this season but the 37-year-old hasn’t been started as much as he’d have hoped.
Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag has only started him on two occasions in the Premier League as he’s preferred Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial.
His lack of minutes came to the fore last week when Ronaldo refused to come off the bench in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham before leaving Old Trafford early.
Ronaldo was fined and made to train by himself before apologising and returning to training on Tuesday – but Saha insists he feels sorry for the striker.
Saha told The Games Cabin: “When Erik ten Hag and Cristiano Ronaldo first met in pre-season, Cristiano asked to leave the club, so for him to stay, he would have wanted guarantees that he was going to play and be a big part of the squad.
“He missed pre-season and his form has potentially let him down a little bit, with one or two chances hitting the post and things like that, but this player is not a normal player. What he’s done over the years and for the club, I do believe at times, he has been disrespected.
“You can understand why he may have wanted a change when you see players like Lionel Messi scoring goals for fun in the Champions League.
“We are in an era when you see players with a 15-year legacy not getting the support or respect they deserve, with Steven Gerrard’s sacking at Aston Villa being another example of that. It’s a very brutal industry. Cristiano has had two or three games without playing well, and he hasn’t been helped.
“Just as a frame of reference, when I was a player, I had really bad injuries after injuries but I had the support of Sir Alex Ferguson because he believed in me, which made me try so much on my return. Cristiano has delivered so much. I do believe he has been treated harshly in some ways and he could have been punished in different ways because he’s not a normal player.
“However, I do respect that the team comes first. He’s not just a squad player because, in my opinion, he’s the biggest ambassador in world football. For me, it’s not just about his own history, it’s also about what he did for Manchester United last season. I feel sorry for him as it’s a very brutal situation.
“I was previously critical about Cristiano, believing he acted a bit like he was above the club, but now I understand his situation and I feel for him. To see him sitting on the bench is very painful.”