Cristiano Ronaldo’s high standards at Manchester United may have contributed to him losing the support of some teammates, according to his former coach.
The Portuguese forward endured a difficult second spell following his emotional return to Old Trafford in 2021, after leaving for Real Madrid 14-years earlier.
However, he was unable to match the success of his first stint leading to an acrimonious exit prior to last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
During his time in LaLiga, Ronaldo scooped four more Ballon d’Or awards in addition to the one he won at United in 2008, as well as a further four Champions League titles.
Hoping to instil his typically high standards on a much-changed Manchester United squad upon his return, the 38-year struggled to have the impact he was hoping for.
Former coach Mike Phelan opened up on Ronaldo’s ill-fated return and where things may have gone wrong for the iconic forward.
“The second time round, he came in a lot older and a lot more opinionated, strong-willed,” Phelan told Sky Sports.
“He still had massively high standards and was terrific to work with. But I’d probably say a tougher mindset. He had been at Man United, he had been Portugal’s ever-present, he had been at Madrid.
“I liked it because he didn’t want his standards to drop, he wanted other people’s standards to come up. And sometimes you lose a few people along the way when that happens.
“I remember certain times when he pushed and pushed hard, and he didn’t get much reaction or much response. And there was frustration.
“When you deal with top, top people, it’s about them and where they can finish and where they can get to. They want to look back and go ‘wow, that was successful.’ And he probably realised, and I don’t know as I never had that conversation with him, that he couldn’t do it at Manchester United. So his challenges were elsewhere.”
Ronaldo’s frustrations boiled over when boss Erik ten Hag banished him to the bench after Ronaldo failed to secure a move away from the club just one year into his deal.
With tension rising around the club Ronaldo gave a bombshell interview to Piers Morgan criticising the club, the owner and the manager, whilst questioning the hunger of the club’s young stars.
The interview saw Ronaldo and United amicably part ways before the forward signed a money-spinning £175million-a-year deal at Saudi Pro League outfit club Al Nassr where he has continued his outrageous goalscoring form.
“He’s still playing international football, yes he’s in Saudi Arabia, but he’s still playing and scoring goals,” Phelan added. “He is doing all the things we knew he could do at Manchester United.
“But a really good personality, hard-working and challenging. He challenged me as a coach, Carlos Queiroz as a coach and Sir Alex as a manager. But that’s good because it takes you to another level.”
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