The first part of Cristiano Ronaldo’s interview with Piers Morgan has arrived as he takes aim at Manchester United’s lack of progress, Sir Alex Ferguson’s influence on his return to Old Trafford, the decision to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the appointment of Ralf Rangnick last season.
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Ahead of the World Cup, Ronaldo has given an exclusive interview to TalkTV in which he has made it clear how unhappy he is with his current situation at United under Erik ten Hag.
The 37-year-old is now expected to leave United in the January transfer window after openly criticising Ten Hag as well as the club’s hierarchy.
The second part of Ronaldo’s interview with TalkTV will be aired at 8PM on Thursday, November 17. The full transcript of the first part, which was broadcast on Wednesday, can be read below…
THE TIMING OF THE INTERVIEW
Ronaldo: ‘Because I think it’s the time… to say something. And because I like you [Morgan]. It’s as simple as that.’
ON MANCHESTER UNITED’S SUPPORTERS
Ronaldo: ‘As I say, many, many times, the fans, they’re always, I’m always gonna say good about them. They are the most important things in football, you play for them. They always on my side. I feel that every time when I go, when I walk in the streets, the fans come to me and they appreciate what I did- what I do for football, and for me, it’s the most important in football. The fans for me are everything.’
HOW CLOSE WAS RONALDO TO JOINING MAN CITY?
Ronaldo: ‘Well, honestly, it was close… But as you know, as my history in Manchester United’s, your heart, you’re feeling the way these two that you did before, make the difference. And of course, as well, Sir Alex Ferguson.
‘So I was surprised. And the same way, but it was conscious decision. Because the heart speaks, speaking loud in that moment.’
Morgan: ‘You were a Manchester United legend. So when you say your heart led you it’s because of that, the history you have with the club and the relationship you maintained with Sir Alex, with the fans?’
Ronaldo: ‘I think it was, it was the key. It was the difference in that moment, but I cannot be loyal if I will. I wouldn’t say that Manchester City wasn’t close. But I think I did a conscious decision.
‘I don’t regret it at any point. And as you mentioned before, Sir Alex Ferguson was the key.’
Morgan: ‘Did you speak to him before?’
Ronaldo: ‘Yes, I did. Yes, I did. I spoke with them, with him.’
Morgan: ‘What did he say to you to try and persuade you?’
Ronaldo: ‘He said to me, ‘It’s impossible for you to go to Manchester City’.
‘And I say, ‘Okay, boss’. So I took the decisions and I repeat, I was conscious that it was a good decision.’
RONALDO ON HIS RETURN GAME
Ronaldo: ‘That feeling was amazing. But not only the day of the game, I felt before the week, before that everything changed. The world spoke about me, Cristiano, back home, back where I belong.
‘So it was a special moment to be back to Manchester United and to perform for our fans, and of course to score two goals was the best welcome that I received in Old Trafford. It was a memorable day and an unbelievable day, too.’
Morgan: ‘The Viva Ronaldo chant went up.’
Ronaldo: ‘Yes, Viva Ronaldo, me back.’
Morgan: ‘You liked hearing that?’
Ronaldo: ‘Yes, of course I did, as I told you before, the fans for me, they are everything.’
Morgan: ‘Two things happened. I think within 24 hours of you re-signing for United. One, you broke the all time record for shirt sales in 24 hours. You actually beat a guy called Messi at PSG. You must have been happy about that?’
Ronaldo: ‘Of course I was. As you know, I don’t follow the records, the records follow me, so it’s good. Another one in my book.’
Morgan: ‘The other one was the Manchester United tweet announcing that you were rejoining the club, was the most tweeted or most liked tweet, I think in Twitter history.’
Ronaldo: ‘It’s good, as I told you before, it was a good moment. Nobody expects, because things change around, in my opinion in 72 hours, which is – you plan or they spoke – not only Manchester City but other clubs too, spoke about your name that ‘you will change Juventus for another club.’
‘But Manchester United wasn’t there, it wasn’t even part of those teams. But [it] surprised everybody, even me, to be honest.’
RONALDO SHOCKED BY MANCHESTER UNITED’S LACK OF PROGRESS
Ronaldo: ‘Piers, to be honest, when I signed for Manchester United, I thought everything had changed because it’s 13 years since I change. I was in Real Madrid nine years and three in Juventus.
‘And when I arrived, I thought everything will be different, you know, the technology, the infrastructures and everything. But I was surprised, in a bad way, let’s say in that way… because I saw, everything was the same.
‘And Manchester it wasn’t in that moment. As you mentioned, Ole was sacked, Michael Carrick, assumed the job for two games. Villareal, and Chelsea away, and everything was so fast and it surprised me a lot, the instability in the club. Everything was kind of the same that – that I…’
Morgan: ‘It hadn’t moved on?’
Ronaldo: ‘No, they stopped on a clock, in my opinion, which is something that surprised me.
‘I didn’t expect. And slowly and slowly they start to change even the windows, the new players and, it was tough, it was tough for me, because I didn’t expect that.
‘I was surprised. I thought when I signed and they signed in that year Sancho, and Varane, plus me, that things will be in the way that Manchester should be.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson left a big gap in the club, not only Sir Alex Ferguson, one person that I thought made the difference; David Gill, the president, is a very very good man. And the structure around Sir Alex Ferguson was very important too. I knew that Manchester United wasn’t the same.
‘But don’t see that it was such a big gap. So big things that have gone through in the last ten years, and it was the thing that surprised me more, to be honest.’
Morgan: ‘It was little things like, even the swimming pool the players use, the saunas, all these facilities, nothing had changed since you’d left in 2009?’
Ronaldo: ‘Nothing changed. Surprisingly. Not only the pool, the jacuzzi, even the gym.
‘Even some points the technology, the kitchen, the chefs, who I appreciate and are lovely, lovely people, but they stopped in time, which is this. It surprised me a lot, I thought I will see different things, different, as I mentioned before, the technology and infrastructure.
‘But unfortunately, we see many things that I used to see, when I was 20, 21, 23. So it surprised me a lot.’
Morgan: ‘You’d also of course, as you said, you’d been at Real Madrid, and Juventus, where you saw them moving all the time, to progress with technology, the latest thing to improve performance level so you were able to compare what you’d experienced there with what was not happening at United.’
Ronaldo: ‘At United, the progress was zero, in my opinion.
‘To compare with Real Madrid and even Juventus, they follow the rest of the world. So the technology, especially in terms of training, nutrition and conditions of, um, eat properly and to recover better than before surprised me.
‘Manchester right now to compare with that club, I think it’s behind in my opinion, which is something that surprised me.
‘A club with this dimension should be in the top of the tree in my opinion and they are not, unfortunately. They are not in that level. But I hope the next years they can reach to be in a top level.’
RONALDO ON RALF RANGNICK’S ARRIVAL
Ronaldo: ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but since Sir Alex Ferguson left I saw no evolution in the club, the progress was zero.
‘For example we have an interesting point that, how the club as Manchester United after sack Ole, they bring in sports director Ralf Rangnick, which is something that nobody understands.
‘This guy is not even a coach. A bigger club like Manchester United bringing in a sports director, it surprised not only me but all the world, you know.’
Morgan: ‘Did they show a lack of ambition to you, when they replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who, a lot of fans liked, but he obviously wasn’t delivering the big titles United wanted, and were used to, and appointed someone like Ralf Rangnick, had you heard of him?’
Ronaldo: ‘No, of course not, nobody [had]. The people who I speak to, nobody knew it was him and suddenly he’s [the manager].
Morgan: ‘And suddenly he’s… did you call him the boss?’
Ronaldo: ‘Of course, I respect we have to call because he assumed the job regardless, all the coaches that I had in my career, I call them boss because if they assume the job we have to call in that way.
‘But in the end the deep inside me, I never saw him as the boss because I saw some points that I never agreed with.’
RONALDO ON RANGNICK’S CRITICISM
Ronaldo: ‘To be honest, Piers, it’s something that I don’t understand. It’s the new coaches that are coming around, they think they find the last Coca Cola in the desert, which is I don’t understand the football that invents many, many years.
‘But I respect any coach, every different approach, different opinions, different mentality, but kind of some points that you’re, you’re not agree. So I’m always like that in my life. I’ve always been, besides the best coaches in the world – [Zinedine] Zidane and [Carlo] Ancelotti, [Jose] Mourinho, Fernando Santos, [Massimiliano] Allegri – so I have kind of, some experience because I learn from them.
‘And when you see some coaches that are coming, that they want the revolution [in] the football, I don’t agree, I have my opinion. They agree or they don’t, they disagree, but it’s part of the business because at the end of the day, I’m in a club to win, and with my experience, I want to help. Like always, and some coaches that don’t accept and, you know, it’s part of the job.’
RONALDO ON OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER
Ronaldo: ‘Well, I love Solskjaer. I think he was a top person because what I keep inside my heart, it’s the heart of the persons, and Ole for me, is a top person.
‘Coach? Of course, it wasn’t, it didn’t… it didn’t look for what he wants. It’s hard. It’s hard to assume after Sir Alex Ferguson, but I think he did a good job for sure.
‘You need much more time. But I never doubt that he’s going to be a good coach in the future. It was a good experience. I was so pleased to work with him even for a short period.
‘But when you sack Ole Solskjaer, you should bring a top manager, not a sports director.’
RONALDO ON MENTALITY OF MAN UNITED’S YOUNG PLAYERS
Ronaldo: ‘All leagues in the world, the youngest now, they are not the same as my generation. But we cannot blame them because, it’s part of the life, you know.
‘The new generation and the new technologies that avoid, they distract them for another thing. But they are not the same that, they listen but this is why we have two ears, as you listen from one side and they go away from another side.
‘So, it don’t surprise me. But in the same way it’s a little bit shame because if they have the best examples in front of your eyes, and if they don’t at least copy what you did, for me, it’s kind of weird, because I remember when I was 18, 19, 20, I’m always looked to see the best players when [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy, [Rio] Ferdinand, Roy Keane, and [Ryan] Giggs, this is why I have the success that I have and longevity. Because I take care of my body, my mentality, my head, because I see these guys and I learn from them.’
Morgan: ‘Who are the players in the world that you most admire? For their mental strength? Their attitude?’
Ronaldo: ‘It’s a difficult question because all I can say is what I see from my eyes.
‘If you ask me what I see in Manchester United, I can mention probably Dalot. Diogo Dalot is an example. He is young, but he is very, very professional.
‘And I’m not doubt that he’s going to have longevity in football because he’s young, he’s smart, intelligent, and is very professional.
‘You have a few more, but like him it’s difficult to say… probably [Lisandro] Martinez, and Casimero and he’s in his 30s – but I will say Dalot.’
RONALDO ON THE SUPPORT HE RECEIVED AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS NEW-BORN SON
Morgan: ‘You had an extraordinary reaction from football fans, obviously from Manchester United, but I think you must have been, just so surprised by the outpouring of not just support but Liverpool fans sang on the seventh minute of their next game, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, what did you feel when you heard that?’
Ronaldo: ‘I never ever expect that. Never. I have the opportunity now to say, all English community, thank you a lot for that, kind of that they held with me. Not only Liverpool, but all England.
‘I received a letter from The Queen’s family as well, and, surprised me a lot.
‘This is why I say, I respect a lot, the English community, English people, because they’ve been very kind with me. And in that difficult moment of my life, [the support] was spectacular.
‘The way they treat me, me and my family in that difficult moment, I should say straight to the camera thank you, ‘Thank you, to the all English community that helped me in that moment’.’
RONALDO ON THE CRITICISM HE’S RECEIVED
Ronaldo: ‘I felt the last four or five months that the press criticise me even more. Sometimes I don’t I don’t understand why? Even the Portuguese press, they criticise me a lot. I don’t understand.
‘But I still believe that the jealousy is part of that. They want to cover many things that helps to shine other things.
‘But listen, Piers, I know I’m 21 years in top of the game so I know all the takes so for me it’s not a problem. It’s hard when you are a little bit down to listen to this criticism.
‘A good thing that I have, it’s I don’t like to read… because I know 90% of the times they lie, they are garbage.
‘The press, they are garbage. And not all of them. But most of them, they don’t say the truth. And they lie, they constantly lie and they constantly attack me and my family.
‘They’re always negative reasons against my family. Why am I going to read? Because I know they tried to make me feel bad, me and my family, which is something hard to deal with, but at the end of the day, I understand. But it’s really really hard.’
Morgan: ‘The problem you have is you’re too famous. You are the most followed human being on Instagram that you have – I just checked 495 million followers. You’re bigger than all the Kardashians put together!’
Ronaldo: ‘It’s good. It’s good. I feel proud for that. It means a lot for me because it means that people like me too. I’m charismatic, I think – why I’m the number one? Sometimes I ask that question to myself. Why me? And not another one?
‘To be honest, not just only because I play good football, because everyone knows but I think the rest is relevant.
‘You have to be charismatic, people have to feel some connection with you. I think to be good looking helps too!’
Morgan: ‘Do you care if people hate you?’
Ronaldo: ‘I care for the people who like me. I’m not wasting time, for the people who don’t like me, I think it’s a waste of time, these people are not interesting in my life.
‘I like to be around the people who love me. I don’t waste my time to see the criticism of people who is next to me, ex-players, for example.’
Morgan: ‘One of your biggest critics has been, and I’m surprised about this.’
Ronaldo: ‘Me too.’
Morgan: ‘Is Wayne Rooney, who you played with for many years very successfully and were good friends with him. And yet all this year, three or four times he’s come out and attacked you in the media, including actually this morning.’
Ronaldo: ‘Piers I don’t understand. You should ask this question to him. But I don’t know, I don’t know why he criticise me so bad, I don’t believe that he’s jealous of me.
‘Surprisingly, it was one year ago or six months ago. We’re here in my house, he picked up his kids here and he invited Cristiano [Ronaldo’s eldest son] to go to his house to play football.
‘I don’t, I really don’t understand people like that.
‘Or if they want to be in a cover of the paper of the news, or they want new jobs or whatever.’
Morgan: ‘Is it jealousy is it, well, perhaps that you’re still playing and still in the United shirt?’
Ronaldo: ‘Probably, because he finished his career in 30s. So I’m still playing at a high level. I’m not gonna say that I’m looking better than him. Which is true, but…
‘It’s hard to listen to that kind of criticism and negativity from people who play with you, for example, Gary Neville as well.’
Morgan: ‘Yeah, I mean, Gary Neville, you blanked him the other day on the pitch and he looked quite upset actually, because obviously likes being your friend, but he’s been pretty critical of you as well.’
Ronaldo: ‘People can have their own opinion, but they don’t really know what’s going on. For example, inside the training ground and Carrington area or even my life, they should listen not only to one point of view, they have to listen to my point of view as well. Because it’s easy to criticise if you don’t know the whole story.’
Morgan: ‘Are they still friends of yours?’
Ronaldo: ‘They are not my friends, they are colleagues. We play together, they’re not coming, we’re not ever having dinner together, for example.
‘But as I told you, Piers, before, it’s part of my journey, they keep criticise me, negativity every time. So I follow. I continue my trip. And I have to catch up the people who like me.’
THE SUPPORT FROM ROY KEANE AND RIO FERDINAND
Ronaldo: ‘That means a lot because I was in the dressing room with them. They are part of my journey in football as well.
‘As I mentioned many times, Roy Keane for me was my best captain ever. Rio Ferdinand helped me a lot. He was my neighbour, I was his neighbour. So very, very good guys.
‘Not just because they speak good about me, but they was there in the dressing room. They are football players. They know how players thinking and behaves, etc.
‘And to listen as ex-colleagues or teammates to criticise you, when they only see one point of view.’
Morgan: ‘Do you feel a bit betrayed?’
Ronaldo: ‘It’s easy to criticise, I don’t know if you have a job in television that they must criticise to be more famous, I really don’t understand it.’
Morgan: ‘You think they use your name a bit to get attention?’
Ronaldo: ‘I think they take advantage of that because they are not stupid.
‘They say if, when they speak about Cristiano, they know the dimension… they take advantage of my name. It’s easy, that when you speak about Cristiano you’re on the cover of the paper easily, or even in a television in kind of way.
‘I understand because as you mentioned before, I’m the number one followed guy in the world. It’s not by coincidence.’
Morgan: ‘It must hurt you?’
Ronaldo: ‘Yes, it did but I’m not gonna sleep bad because of the criticism. But it’s not good to listen to that. It’s just a little bit disappointing.’
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