Cristiano Ronaldo interview: CR7 Man United sends sharp message to teammates & club
In one of the most candid interviews in recent years, Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo made it clear that he would like to see improvement at a club he believes is underachieving.
Ronaldo sat for more than 20 minutes for a video interview that was widely distributed to Premier League rights holders around the world. He did not mince words about the current state of the club, who sit in seventh place and 22 points adrift of the top spot.
“Manchester is included in important things. We have to change that. I don’t want to be here at the club fighting for sixth or seventh or fifth place. I am here to try to win, to compete and I think we are competing, but we are not at our best level yet. But we have a long way to go and I believe that if we change our minds we can achieve great things.
“I believe you have some things we have to change,” Ronaldo said later in the interview. “We have a long way to grow. But I believe. It’s a new year, and we have to believe that things will change for the better.”
Those words will not dispel the rumors about his desire to leave the club. But Ronaldo, when pressed about what specifically needed to change, hesitated to speak. It was clear that he did have an opinion, but kept it to himself.
“I’m not the right person (to say) that we have to change this or that,” said Ronaldo, who leads the team with 16 goals. “Honestly, the last five, six games do you think Manchester (United) played really well? Not. you know that. Everyone knows that.
“We have to be positive to try to change things, to play the way the Manchester United fans want and the history of the club. This is why we will not give up. The only (who) give up are people who are mentally weak.
“I’m a player, I’m not a coach. I’m not the president. I know how, but as you know, I’m not going to mention it here because I don’t think it’s ethical on my part to say that. What I can say and something we have in our control is that we could have done better. All of us: collectives, individuals, everyone.”
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Ronaldo is trying hard to match himself with the players he says need to step up their game for the club to take a step forward. But it’s also clear from interviews he thinks there are teammates who don’t get the message.
He spoke about his experiences as a young player and how advice from his older team-mates propelled him to success. He didn’t see a similar response from the players on his current team.
“I remember when I was 18, 19, 20, some old players spoke to me but I said it as, ‘Cristiano you have to improve’… but other people don’t accept that if you criticize (them),” he said. “Sometimes when you are a little louder they do the opposite. You have to find the right balance to talk to them.
“But I think it should come from within you. You have to be proud of yourself and look in the mirror and say ‘Listen, I gave my all.’ And I think we should all do that. Since (it is) new year, we turn the page. We have a lot to win and we have to believe in it, because otherwise it will be a nightmare.”
“If I give you advice and even if you are younger than me and you don’t (apply) it in your daily life, it will be difficult. You can talk all day long with that person. If (it) doesn’t come from within you, it’s impossible.”
Ronaldo continues to emphasize the need for the players to push themselves and push themselves to reach higher levels. He feels it is that individual mentality that will ultimately translate into the team’s success.
“For me, the most important thing is mentality. So that you are professional, help the team, the right mentality, self-thinking, positive. I think all the details are up to you – not the coach, the fans, the press. It depends on you. If you are proud of yourself and have dignity, I think you should do a lot more. And it starts with me.
“We are here to help. If and when they (other younger players) need my help, and my support, and my advices, I will be the No. 1 to help,” Ronaldo continued. “But if you don’t want my help, so do your job, look for yourself and do it your best to help the team.”
Ronaldo sets 2022 hopes for Man United
Ronaldo missed his recent FA Cup win with “a bit of a pain,” but said he was confident he would be available for Saturday’s next game at Aston Villa.
Manchester United made it into the Round of 32 in the FA Cup, are in the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League and sit six points off fourth place in the league table, which will guarantee a place in the prestigious Champions League next season.
There are 19 Premier League games remaining in the 2021-22 season — and an additional cup game, depending on how far the Red Devils go in both cup competitions. With that in mind, Ronaldo has outlined the goals for the remaining four months of the season:
“Now. I hope to win one title, qualify for the Champions League (Last of 16) and at least – right now – be in the top four (in the Premier League).”
The goal, however, is ultimately to be back on par with the elite in the Premier League and Champions League, namely the other three English clubs that all made it to the Champions League final once inside the last three years and that also currently find themselves occupying the top three spots in the EPL.
“To win the league it’s a marathon. It’s not a 100-meter sprint. You have to be consistent. This is why the best team in England is probably Manchester City and Liverpool and Chelsea because they are more consistent than the other teams.
“But we have to look at that (the top teams) and believe we are capable to do it the same way. We know it’s tough and we have to improve. But I believe. Some things have to change, but I believe we have the potential here. So we have to do the right things. It’s the only way to be on that level of the teams I mentioned before.
“As I told you and I’m going to repeat, some things have to change.”
What Cristiano thinks of new manager Rangnick
When it comes to change, Ronaldo says that the new coach, Ralf Rangnick, has introduced plenty of it.
Although Ronaldo conspicuously didn’t identify Rangnick by name in the interview, he says the German manager needs more time. And the Portuguese legend is hopeful that, by the time the Champions League Round of 16 series against Atletico Madrid rolls around beginning on Feb. 23, the Red Devils will be further along in their improvement curve.
“He (Rangnick) arrives here five weeks ago. He changed many things. But he needs time to put his ideas through the players and on the pitch as well. It takes time. But I believe that he’s going to do a good job,” Ronaldo said.
“He needs time. It’s not that easy to change the mentality of players and the way they play, the system and the culture (just) like that. So I believe he’s going to do a good job.”