Sir Alex Ferguson has previously advised Manchester United on how to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo, who refused to come on as a substitute on Wednesday night.
Ronaldo stormed down the tunnel at Old Trafford following Manchester United’s emphatic two-goal victory against Tottenham, with manager Erik ten Hag benching the star for this weekend’s trip to Chelsea.
The Portuguese superstar has been harshly chastised for his behavior at the conclusion of the match. He has been keen to leave United for the past four months, following the failure of his high-profile comeback from Juventus last year.
Ten Hag addressed the situation on Amazon Prime after the game: “He (Ronaldo) was present; I saw him but did not talk to him. That will be dealt with tomorrow, not now.” His words and actions appear to have increased rather than decreased his power at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman looks to be following counsel similar to that given by Ferguson during his 27-year reign at Old Trafford. The Scot was known for dumping outstanding players at the first indication of problems, and his brutality became legendary.
Ferguson’s degradation of his relationship with David Beckham was possibly the most notable of all those breakdowns, with the manager noting in his 2013 autobiography My Autobiography: “The minute a Manchester United player thought he was greater than the manager, he had to go.”
United football director John Murtough dismissed the concept of first-team moves in or out of the club this winter, but the urgency of the Ronaldo situation – that of their best-paid and highest-status player – may modify that stance and compel a change.
Ronaldo has started just one of United’s last eight Premier League games and none of the six wins during that time, though he did score the game-winning goal against Everton earlier this month after coming on as an early substitute for Anthony Martial. Under Ten Hag, he has dropped lower down the pecking order.
A breakup appears to be becoming increasingly inevitable, with this week’s events looking to hasten such an inevitability. Ten Hag and the club’s transfer chiefs will have an early test in heeding the advice of their most successful manager and enforcing the rules.