TalkTV gave it full day treatment before the transfer deadline. A countdown clock, placed in the bottom right corner of the screen, told viewers how long it was until they could hear fully from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Jeremy Kyle was the last to do it after wrapping up his own less publicized interview with comedian Dom Joly. A final push for interest came as the minutes ticked away, not that it was necessary. “The first part of that bombshell interview is coming up,” Kyle said.
The wait had lasted three days. A 72-hour course that began on Sunday night had teased a global audience with the best bits of Ronaldo’s interview with Piers Morgan and, so damning was the content, will see the veteran striker’s days as a Manchester United player pass quickly. to be.
“This is the interview the whole world is talking about,” Morgan said.
Or at least part one. This was the first half, a 45-minute discussion focused on Ronaldo’s grievances and sorrows over the past 18 months. It was the interview he’d promised since attempts to leave Old Trafford in the summer came to nothing. A good time, he thinks, to set the record straight on the eve of a World Cup.
Morgan was the vehicle of choice for revenge, carefully setting the stage for Ronaldo to aim. And, as with most of his career, the Portugal captain didn’t miss.
As the juiciest clips had promised in the days leading up to the interview going live, shots were fired at Manchester United’s hierarchy, his former coach Ralf Rangnick and those former teammates who dared to suggest his powers are at stake. take.
United head coach Erik ten Hag can expect his moment of eviction when the second part of an interview filmed at Ronaldo’s home airs on Thursday evening. The Glazers are also a target.
However, this rare window into Ronaldo’s mind wasn’t just fear and frustration. Time was spent describing the tragic death of his newborn son, Angel, in April and the strength of his relationship with his girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez.
Ronaldo has even more to say about his plight with United, with sharp accusations of betrayal and disrespect to get in depth, but here are five pertinent points from the first half of that interview with Morgan.
United’s ‘progress was zero’
“Everything was the same. They stopped on a clock in my opinion, something that surprised me.
These scathing words had made headlines for days, and their power was not diluted by wider context. Ronaldo claimed time has stood still for United since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, with off-field stagnation pointing to a wider malaise.
A move to Manchester City was “close”, he said, but the emotional appeal of United, the club that launched his career as a teenager, outweighed any doubts he has now expressed.
“A club of this dimension should be the top of the tree and unfortunately they are not,” he said. “They’re not at that level. I don’t know what’s going on, but since Sir Alex Ferguson left I didn’t see any evolution in the club, progress was zero.”
United rail opposes that suggestion. The club’s training ground is being redeveloped with significant investment, while reconstruction of the science and data teams is underway. However, it has clearly not been enough for Ronaldo.
Rangnick and the last Coca-Cola
“Deep down I never saw him as the boss because I saw some points I never agreed with.”
If there was a moment when Ronaldo’s return to United started to turn sour, it can easily be traced to Rangnick’s appointment. Last November, in the weeks following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a figure who retains Ronaldo’s respect, it was decided that United would appoint Lokomotiv Moscow’s sporting director as a short-term solution. Ronaldo, it seems, was never sold to Rangnick, who had his high-profile striker relegated to the bench in February.
“To be honest, Piers, it’s something I don’t understand,” said Ronaldo, who claimed never to have heard of Rangnick before his appointment. “It’s the new coaches coming along, they think they’re finding the last Coca-Cola in the desert, and that’s I don’t understand the football that takes many, many years to invent.
“I’m in a club to win and with my experience I want to help. As always, and some coaches don’t accept it and, you know, it’s part of the job.”
No love was lost between Ronaldo and Rangnick. However, a change of manager in the summer has not changed the direction Ronaldo would like to leave Old Trafford.
Young players and falling standards
“All the leagues in the world, the youngest now, they are not the same as my generation.”
In the happy weeks following Ronaldo’s return in August 2021, everyone agreed that he would become the perfect role model for United’s young forwards.
Wrong. Twelve months later, Ronaldo has expressed his apparent disappointment with the youngsters’ attitude. No one was criticized by name, but asked to choose players in the world he admired, praise only went to Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro when he narrowed the question down to his teammates.
In a wider discussion of young players following his example, he added: “They don’t care. Some, yes. But most of them, no. They will not have longevity in their careers. It’s impossible.”
“Their hunger (is different). They have things easier, everything is easy, they don’t suffer – and they don’t care.
A penny for the thoughts of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho…
Critical former teammates
“I still believe the jealousy is part of it… It’s hard when you’re a little down to listen to this criticism.”
They were once teammates with Ronaldo, but the friendships with Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville seem to be over. The swipes directed in their direction had been extensively documented and even taking into account Morgan’s bait, it was clear that the criticism had stung Ronaldo.
Ronaldo said it had only been six months since Rooney had visited his house, but those invitations are unlikely to come again. “I really don’t understand people like that,” he said. “Or if they want to be on the front page of the newspaper or the news, or if they want a new job or whatever.”
Neville has laughed off the story, but Ronaldo seems in no mood to build bridges with teammates who helped him win his first Champions League title in 2008.
“I care about the people who love me,” he said. “I don’t waste time on the people who don’t like me. It’s a waste of time, these people are not interesting in my life.”
Oddly enough, Ronaldo reserved praise for Ruud van Nistelrooy alongside Roy Keane and Rio Ferdinand, despite a strained relationship with the former Netherlands and United striker.
Angel ‘in Heaven’
“His ashes are with me, just like my father, they are here in the house… It’s something I want to hold on to for the rest of my life.”
Ronaldo’s motivation for an interview with Morgan was to settle scores, but there was still time to explain one of the most difficult periods of his life. His partner was expecting twins in April, but their son, Angel, did not survive the birth. Ronaldo says he has received condolences from all over the football world, as well as a letter from the royal family. “I never, ever expect that,” he said. “Never.”
Ronaldo admitted that his son’s ashes are kept alongside those of his father, Jose, who died in 2005.
“I have a small church,” he explained. “Yes, chapel. And I keep my father and my son (there). I talk to them every time and they are by my side. You know they helped me be a better man, be a better person, be a better father. I am really proud of the message they are sending me, especially my son.”
Expect Ronaldo to address daughter Bella’s health issues – and United’s handling of his pre-season absence – when the second part of the interview airs. There’s distance left to run in this one.
(Top photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)