It hasn't quite worked out as expected for Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United after the Portuguese's return to Old Trafford in the summer. With United languishing outside the Champions League places, and making heavy work of progressing through cup competitions, it's safe to say the winning mentality expected from Ronaldo's arrival hasn't materialised.
On Friday, a report from The Athletic suggested that all may not be well behind the scenes between Ronaldo and some of his younger teammates.
Cristiano Ronaldo comments did not go down well in Manchester United dressing room
When he returned to Manchester United in August, Cristiano Ronaldo was touted by many pundits to herald the beginning of a new era for the club. Since then, the club have recorded embarrassing losses like the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool, seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer depart as manager, and are now in serious danger of missing out on Champions League football for next season.
Ronaldo made headlines last week when he commented on the mentality of some of his teammates at Old Trafford. The Portuguese captain suggested that the mentality of some of the United squad needed improving, and he particularly focused in on the younger players in the squad.
🗣 "It's not that easy to change the mentality of the players, the way they play the system and the culture."
Cristiano Ronaldo backs manager Ralf Rangnick as he feels he has improved things at Manchester United but calls for patience pic.twitter.com/h1ugNQATGP
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 13, 2022
I remember when I was 18 the older players spoke with me and I took that as needing to improve. They know more than me.
This new generation in general don't accept when you criticise them. I have kids, I know, they do the opposite.
Ronaldo's comments drew memories of the infamous MUTV interview that led to Roy Keane's departure from the club in 2005 - and a new report from The Athletic suggests that Ronaldo's teammates have not taken kindly to the comments.
The report suggests that the interview "did not go down well" with portions of the squad, and that many of the younger players have consistently found veteran striker Edinson Cavani far more approachable for advice and encouragement.
The Athletic do, however, suggest that Ronaldo's view is one shared by several at the club. Many staff believe Mason Greenwood could reach new heights if his work rate improved, while one senior player is said to have defended Ronaldo's comments and agreed that tough love is needed.
Regardless of the reports, it seems as though some element of the message has gotten through. United's 3-1 win at Brentford on Wednesday came through goals from three academy graduates, Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood, and Marcus Rashford.
In that same game, it was Ronaldo who was criticised for his poor mentality, as he had to be consoled by manager Ralf Rangnick after being substituted in the second half.
Despite his position as the club's top scorer, the debate continues to rage on about just how much good Cristiano Ronaldo has done since his arrival at Manchester United. Reports like Friday morning's will hardly do anything to quell any disquiet.