Former Portugal midfielder Pedro Mendes has discussed the issues currently facing former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.
Ronaldo has faced a difficult season, with just one Premier League goal scored all season as he has failed to establish a starting position in Erik Ten Hag’s side. For the first time in his career, he is in a side that doesn't set up to cater his strengths.
Ronaldo’s treatment by the dutchman has been of constant debate all season, as some pundits claim a player of his magnitude and quality should be starting every game. However, Ten Hag has a squad that have bought into his system and are producing results on the pitch.
Father time catches up with everyone, and at 37 years of age, that time might be now for Ronaldo, who was linked with a move away from Manchester United all summer.
In an exclusive with Ladbrokes.com, Pedro Mendes claims the quality of Cristiano Ronaldo makes this situation all the more difficult.
“We don’t know exactly what went on behind closed doors in the summer, whether there was an offer on the table for him, whether Erik ten Hag wanted him to stay or leave. A lot of things are coming out, but at the end of the day if the manager wants him, he stays.#
The difficulty comes because Cristiano Ronaldo is not a squad player. You can’t have someone like him in your team as a squad player. It’s hard enough at times for a normal player to sit on the bench. The worst thing you can do for any footballer is have him warm up all game just to come on at the end for five minutes. It’s embarrassing.
For a young player, I get it. Give him minutes at the end of a game, let him build up his confidence. But for someone like Cristiano? It’s humiliating. It’s difficult for him to take.
But now he’s playing a little more for United and everything looks a little more normal. But I think if the right club and the right project comes along in January, he’ll leave. That’s what I think."
World Cup Mentality
With the World Cup in just over a week’s time, Ronaldo will be aiming to make history and become the first player to score in five different World Cups.
While he may not be going into the competition in top form, it would be foolish to dismiss his chances of success in the tournament.
Having played together with Portugal, Pedro Mendes knows what Ronaldo’s mentality is on the biggest stage for his country.
“Before the 2010 World Cup, we were in Portugal together for three weeks as a team, training and preparing before heading out to South Africa, and Cristiano was just a normal team-mate. That’s what I liked about him.
You could see he was a champion in everything he did, but ultimately he respected his team-mates and always came across as just the same as all of us.
When it came to down-time in that World Cup, whatever it was we found ourselves playing as a team, none of us wanted to lose. That’s including Cristiano. He wanted to be the best at whatever it was, but that was the same with all of us.
I don’t know anyone who likes losing. But it’s even more important in those situations, because there’s the fear that the joke is going to be on you if you lose. It’s healthy competition, which is always a good thing in those camps.”