Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher almost came to blow after a furious row about Cristiano Ronaldo’s role at Manchester United threatened to spill over following Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge.
Ronaldo was brought back to the club over the summer from Juventus in a high-profile transfer. And his instinct for scoring goals very much remains despite the veteran forward turning 37 years of age in February. However, his inability to play a high press has been blamed some, including this pundit, for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer getting the sack.
Now under the caretaker management of Michael Carrick, he caused a stir by leaving Ronaldo on the bench at Stamford Bridge.
Indeed, incoming interim boss Ralf Rangnick is seen as the ‘Godfather of the gegenpress’. To that end, the salary he will earn and compensation United will pay has been revealed in a report.
However, Ronaldo’s role in the side in the coming weeks and months ahead looks to be a fascinating area for debate.
After he was left on the bench on Sunday, Keane and Carragher had a furious disagreement over the Portuguese superstar.
“Ronaldo’s not one to come off the bench,” Keane said. “Ronaldo has not come back to sit on the bench. His overall play he knew the ref was going to blow the whistle. Why Carrick is trying to give him a high-five I don’t know. Let him get down the tunnel.
“Nothing wrong with a player being upset but Ronaldo has not come back to sit on the bench. He’s a world class player. The idea Ronaldo will close people down, he’s not. But sometimes you have to work around the superstar.
Ronaldo may be facing regular bench role
“I played with players who don’t do their bit you’d hope, the Cantonas of the world but you forgive him because they will score and win the matches. He could’ve played easily.”
Carragher believes Ronaldo may be a substitute more often under Rangnick.
“I think Rangnick will not cause himself a problem by putting Ronaldo on the bench, but this idea of Ronaldo playing every minute I don’t think is right,” Carragher stated.
“I think going away to big games I can understand why Carrick didn’t start him. He’s 36. Ronaldo is not the player he was but I don’t think it should be a big story if he doesn’t start every game.”
Keane: “Ronaldo, if you bumped into him in the car park you see a guy who’s won everything come back to lift the club – of course he wants to play in these games.
“Not everyone’s played 800 games in their career. If you’re watching United today you still think if Ronaldo is on the pitch if the ball falls to everyone in world football even at 36 it’s Ronaldo. It’s not as if he hasn’t scored and he’s not interested, he’s on it but then he’s getting the blame for the high press.
“He’s not pressed for five or six years. He’s not going to fix United’s problem but you don’t bring Ronaldo back to sit on the bench.”
Rashford, Ronaldo comparison made by Keane
“You think Rashford pressed today? He did nothing today. Stats have taken over the world – his stats coming back to United are good.”
Carragher: “He’s a phenomenon in terms of goals. But I mentioned this in midweek. PSG signed Messi and United signed Ronaldo. Are United closer to the title? No. Are PSG closer to the Champions League with Messi? No.”
Keane: “Ronaldo was never going to get United back to winning titles.”
Carragher: “So what was the point in signing him then?! He’s 37!”
Carragher: “You finish second and sign Ronaldo at 36 you’re not going to win the league in four years. If you sign someone at 36 it’s to win right now. If you sign Varane, a four-time Champions League winner, it’s to win right now. Are they any closer to winning the league?”
Keane: “No. He’s not come back to win the league.”
Carragher: “So what’s he come back for?! What’s he here for then?”
Keane: “For Cups.”
Carragher: “Is that where Man United are now?”