Ex-Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke feels the Red Devils could have got the best from Cristiano Ronaldo this season – but that they missed their opportunity to do so.
The Portuguese icon has been on the periphery of Erik ten Hag’s squad and demonstrated his displeasure at the situation, when he walked down the tunnel before the end of United’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur last week.
And Yorke has some sympathy with the former Real Madrid star, who he believes has been mismanaged at Old Trafford.
Speaking exclusively to Lord Ping, he said: “With the record he [Ronaldo] has against Spurs, he will have been disappointed that he wasn’t playing.
“When I spoke with him six months ago, I spent 30 minutes with him after training. I saw a guy that was passionate and wanted to remain at the club. Then, over the summer, the whole thing escalated.
“I think the club has missed the boat. I think Ten Hag missed that moment to find out where Ronaldo’s head was at before the season started. I’d be amazed if he didn’t have that conversation with his superstar player.
“He was really passionate and wanted to remain at United. He wanted to win or bring back some sort of respectability to the football club. I feel that United should have given him the captaincy.
“He had one year remaining on his deal, you give him the armband and ask him to lead the team before leaving the club. I think all this drama that is happening now could have been prevented.
“When we spoke, he was frustrated. He was hurting. At this point Ten Hag hadn’t been appointed, but he was angry with how the season played out.”
Yorke has also suggested that awarding Cristiano Ronaldo the captaincy might have been the best way of motivating him – and avoiding the current situation in M16.
“I think there was an opportunity for Ten Hag to manage Ronaldo in a different way, with a clean slate, and the captaincy would have shown the player how much he was valued at the club. I think that would have propelled him to be even better for United.
“Then you have the debacle that happens in the pre-season. I think he missed those tours because he was reportedly so upset and frustrated with what was happening at the club.
“Obviously, Ten Hag kept the status quo with [Harry] Maguire, but he dropped him after a few games and then Bruno [Fernandes] was given the armband.
“This is a player that Ronaldo captains on an international level, which again undermines a player of Ronaldo’s standing and adds more fuel to the fire.
“People say that he wants to be the main man at a club at his age, but what they need to remember is that when you’re talking about one of the greatest, if not the greatest player to have played the game, he will always be the main man.
“He has been the main man for his entire career. There’s the ongoing debate about how many games he should play, but he spoke to me and was honest about it, he doesn’t want to play in every game and he knows that at his age he can’t.
“That’s where I feel that that management has let him down. I don’t understand the breakdown in the communication and how it can escalate to the level that it has.”
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