‘He can shut a few IDIOTS up’: Roy Keane backs Cristiano Ronaldo to put Man United sacking behind him and star for Portugal – as Graeme Souness and Joe Cole insist he will feel ‘liberated’ to be back on the pitch
- Follow Sportsmail’s dedicated LIVE blog as Portugal take on Ghana in Group H
- Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, is now a free agent after leaving United earlier this week
- His contract – worth £550,000-a-week – had been set to run until June 2023
- The decision was made by mutual consent and he will be paid no compensation
- Graeme Souness and Joe Cole add that he will now feel ‘relieved’ and ‘liberated’
- For all the latest updates from Qatar follow Sportsmail’s LIVE World Cup blog
- Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results
Roy Keane believes Cristiano Ronaldo can use Thursday’s meeting with Ghana to ‘shut a few idiots up’ after facing criticism in recent weeks for his conduct at Manchester United.
The former United skipper suggested Ronaldo can let his football do the talking in the week that saw him leave Old Trafford with immediate effect.
The 37-year-old gave a now-infamous interview to Piers Morgan, in which he blasted numerous figures at the club and admitted he felt betrayed by United.
Roy Keane believes Cristiano Ronaldo can ‘shut a few idiots up’ against Ghana for Portugal
He will lead the line for his country as they take on Otto Addo’s Black Stars in their opening World Cup game in Qatar.
Keane told ITV: ‘I am looking forward to seeing him play. It will settle down now. He has done his talking with a couple of interviews.
‘He has to do his talking on the pitch. I hope he performs on the pitch and I believe he will. He can shut a few people up, all the idiots who have been criticising him.
‘I am lucky to have played with him and am glad to be watching him tonight.’
And the the former Republic of Ireland midfielder is not alone in backing the Portuguese legend, with fellow pundits Joe Cole and Graeme Souness equally confident.
Ronaldo is preparing to lead his side against Ghana in their World Cup opener in Group H
Both suggested that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be ‘relieved’ and ‘liberated’ after the seismic interview had given rise to mountains of speculation over what his future held.
Former Liverpool icon Souness said: ‘I think he will be relieved. He is a player who enjoys the limelight and the spotlight will be on him.
‘The questions will be asked where he will end up. He will relish the challenge. This is his last World Cup and he will want to go out with a real big bang.’
The 37-year-old’s Old Trafford return grew increasingly sour before the controversial interview
And Cole added: ‘He will be liberated. They have drawn a line under it. No doubt He and his agent have something up their sleeves.
‘They have probably got his new club sorted already. There is only Messi who stands above him as the greatest of all time.
‘He will only have had this World Cup to think about for three weeks.’
After a prodigal return in the summer of 2021 to the club where he made a name for himself as a teenager, Ronaldo has this season fallen far from the pedestal that both club and fans alike held him on.
Graeme Souness insisted that Ronaldo’s United departure will leave him ‘relieved’ at last
Having declared he wanted a transfer away from the club in the summer, and not joining the team on their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia, his relationship with Erik ten Hag began to sour.
And having been benched in the season opener – a 4-0 defeat to Brighton – he grew increasingly impatient with his treatment from a manager he has recently admitted to have no respect for.
The situation began to boil over in October after Ronaldo refused to come off the bench against Tottenham and left the stadium early, but the problem reached the point of no return with his outlandish interview in November.
Ex-Chelsea player Cole added that he will feel ‘liberated’ – but would not take him at Chelsea
And although Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers – if not sportsmen – to have ever lived, such is the damage to his reputation that he has caused of late that Cole admitted he would not want him at Chelsea.
Ronaldo could become the first player to score at five different World Cups
‘No… Tampa Bay maybe!’ he quipped, when asked by Souness if he would take him at his former club.
In his notorious interview with Morgan, Ronaldo levelled accusations at United, in which he claimed that there had been little to no advancement since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, revealed his lack of respect for Ten Hag, and claimed that the Glazer family only had commercial interests at the club.
Alongside great rival Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo became one of only a select few to play at five World Cups when taking the field against Ghana.
He also has the opportunity to become the first ever men’s player to score at five different World Cups, having done so in each competition between 2006 and 2018 already and joint on four with Messi, Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose.
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