Gary Neville has called on Cristiano Ronaldo to speak publicly about his future at Manchester United, believing the “messy” situation has caused an unwanted distraction for new manager Erik ten Hag ahead of the new season.
Ronaldo has asked to leave United and has only 45 minutes of game action since pre-season after family reasons kept him away from the club’s summer tour.
Ten Hag have confirmed that Anthony Martial is out of Sunday’s visit to Brighton through injury, but refused to reveal whether Ronaldo will start in his place. The 37-year-old and Marcus Rashford are Martial’s only direct striker replacements, unless Ten Hag opt for a false nine as he experienced in pre-season.
Ronaldo reportedly wants to leave United to play for a club competing in next season’s Champions League, but Neville maintains the Portuguese should make his position clear to supporters at a time when the club are looking for a much needed stability.
Speaking Friday night footballNeville said: “The Ronaldo situation is a distraction. You saw Ten Hag in the press conference on Friday having to answer questions about it.
“The fact that Anthony Martial has been injured and is the only centre-forward, and he was actually supposed to leave the club six months ago.
“The fact that they haven’t brought Frenkie de Jong in, the fact that they haven’t backed you in the same way as the other managers and getting the signings earlier, I think it all means it’s a harder job for Ten Hag del which already does. was.”
Asked if he would start Ronaldo, Neville added: “If Ronaldo is fit, you put him in, and I hope he stays.
Sky will obviously be calling for him on Sunday after the game. Will he go out, stand up, do the interview and not let everyone else have to answer the questions for him?
“I’m a bit disappointed with him because he lets the coach take part in these press conferences. Now Cristiano Ronaldo is at a good age. He’s been the greatest player in the world along with Lionel Messi for the last 10 years. He’s got everything. the experience of the world.
“Would it be too much to ask him to come out and do an interview to set the record straight, tell us what he’s really thinking and what’s really going on?
“Would that be too much to ask of a senior player? He’s not going to do an interview for the next three weeks? He’s not going to do an interview on Sunday after the game?
“Obviously Sky will be asking about him on Sunday after the game. Will he come out, stand up, do the interview and not let everyone have to answer the questions for him?
“I think that would be something that would be a start.
“So, for me, I’m disappointed that we don’t have that clarity and the reason why Ten Hag is getting a little nervous in his press conference is because he’s being asked tough questions. He’s probably not telling us the true because he can’t.
“The reality is if a Champions League club comes in for Cristiano Ronaldo in the next two weeks, I think we know he wants to make that move. We know that. It’s come up over the last few weeks.
“At the moment, nobody has come for him. That’s why the club is saying at the moment he can stay and we want him to stay, but if someone came in I think he would go.
“Should Manchester United wait two or three weeks before the end of the transfer window to find out if their star centre-forward is leaving? I don’t think they should be in that position.
“They just say no and tell him to stay no matter what? That would be clarity from the club I suppose, but then there’s a huge risk that in two weeks time Cristiano will throw his toys out of the pram and say I’m leaving..
“That’s the kind of thing that can happen and that’s why I find it unpleasant.
“There’s a bigger thing for me too because I want his career at Man Utd to end well. What he’s achieved at the club and what he’s achieved in the game, it’s too much to ask for the next 12 months for him to encourage the young .players, be leaders on the field and do interviews when your team wins and when they lose.
“Make sure he sets the standard he always does in training in terms of his performance. Score the goals and let everyone be fair and let him leave Manchester with the best thoughts.
“This is messy for him, messy for the club. It’s messy for everybody.
“We want him to stay. We’re desperate for him to stay. We just don’t like these side sagas that drag on.
“They never look good. They always look a bit tacky, and I think that needs to be cleared up. It needs to be fixed quite quickly because we won’t be able to have it for another three weeks if you’re a Manchester United fan, and certainly if they are Erik ten Hag.
“He has to be able to concentrate on the whole team, on their performance and on the tactical way of playing. He doesn’t want the star player to distract him all the time and whether he stays or leaves.”
Carragher: Man Utd better start fresh with younger squad
Ronaldo was absent from United’s recent pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia and only returned to training last week when he and his agent, Jorge Mendes, held further talks about his future.
United, however, insist they will not sanction the sale of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who is firmly in Ten Hag’s plans, although United’s new boss has admitted the player is still well behind schedule your team peers in terms of physical fitness.
The loss of Martial, who performed well in pre-season, for the start of United’s season has left the new manager in a potentially awkward position so early in his tenure, having also qualified from the Ronaldo’s early exit from Old Trafford, along with other players, during the last season. The weekend friendly with Rayo Vallecano is “unacceptable”.
There has been a lot of talk about whether Ronaldo suits the new style of play Ten Hag is trying to implement at Old Trafford and whether he still has the ability to press from the front and play in a modern system.
Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, alongside Martial, have shown signs of a resurgence by playing as a more fluid front three during pre-season, and Jamie Carragher believes United now need to draw a line under the Ronaldo saga.
“I’ve been critical of the Ronaldo signing since he came in and I said the Ten Hag really should move on from that,” Carragher said. Friday night football.
“I know it’s easier said than done to move a player, but we really want him to stay because we talk about him and he makes headlines. He’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
“We have some of the best players, the biggest names and coaches in Klopp and Guardiola, and Ronaldo is one of the biggest names, if not the biggest name because of the player he has been in the past and what he has done and achieved.
“So really looking at it from an analytical point of view at Man Utd, I think they would be better off without him and almost start again with a younger team.
“But in terms of our work and what we do, covering the big names and talking points, he’s an absolute superstar. He’s a mega star.
“If he plays at the weekend, we will all focus on him and analyze his performance, his body language and how he is with the manager on the side of the pitch.
“It’s a huge story and that’s why, in a way, you want to keep him in the Premier League.”
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