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09th Dec 2022

Roy Keane and Gary Neville reignite argument about Cristiano Ronaldo

Lee Costello

‘Are footballers supposed to be perfect?’

Roy Keane and Gary Neville have reignited an argument they previously had about Cristiano Ronaldo and his place in modern football.

Neville had claimed that Manchester United were a much better team without Ronaldo in it, while Keane disagreed.

Now following Fernando Santos decision to drop his captain, the debate has resurfaced, but this time with Portugal.

Keane Neville Ronaldo

The five time Ballon d’or was on the bench when he watched his replacement Goncalo Ramos score a hat trick in his place.

Despite this, the Irishman doesn’t necessarily believe the this means the team is stronger without Ronaldo in it.

“Are footballers supposed to be perfect? Cristiano Ronaldo had this attitude 10 years ago, but the following game he would score a hat trick, and he was 27 – everyone would forgive him,” Keane said to Sky Bet.

Keane Neville Ronaldo

“People say that he makes teams worse – Juventus haven’t done anything since he left them a couple of years ago.  

“Against Switzerland, the Portugal manager made a correct decision to replace Ronaldo with someone who offered more mobility up front. He [Goncalo Ramos] scores a hat trick, and everyone looks straight to Ronaldo.

“I always thought there could be a chance that Ronaldo wouldn’t start a World Cup knockout game for Portugal – he’s 37!”

Keane Neville Ronaldo

Neville on the other hand points out that teams seem to perform better when he’s dropped, and that he may kept on the bench for the remainder of the tournament.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player I’ve ever seen, and despite what he may think, I love him to bits – he is unbelievable. His long-term legacy is set.

“The problem I have is that his determination and single-mindedness has got him to where he is, but it led to his departure from Manchester United being a little scruffy.    

Keane Neville Ronaldo

“If he came out and did interviews where he said he was angry, I would’ve sided with him more, but bar his interview with Piers Morgan he hasn’t spoken publicly – or done an interview with the club.

“His managers – first Erik ten Hag and now Fernando Santos – have come out and said they are not happy with his behaviour. I worry about the influence he will have on other players when he refuses to be part of a team. Ronaldo is better than that. 

 “The biggest problem is that his managers at Portugal and Manchester United thought they were better without Ronaldo in the team, and he’s finding that difficult to come to terms with.

Keane Neville Ronaldo

“Portugal’s best performance of the tournament, the 6-1 win over Switzerland, was without him – and they looked much more mobile. João Felix and Bruno Fernandes really came alive.

“This reminds me of United – they are better when he is not in the team.” 

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