- Mike Phelan says Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Man United with more ‘will’
- The Portuguese icon enjoyed two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 times in 346 matches.
- Listen to the latest episode of the Mail Sport podcast Everything starts
Cristiano Ronaldo’s high standards may be part of what made him an all-time great, but according to Manchester United legend Mike Phelan, they also saw the striker “lose” some of his Red Devils teammates.
The Portuguese icon enjoyed two spells at Old Trafford throughout his storied career, first signing for Sporting in 2003, spending six years under Sir Alex Ferguson before joining Real Madrid.
With Los Blancos, the now 38-year-old propelled himself to the forefront of the sport, winning five Ballon d’Ors and four Champions Leagues before leaving for a new challenge at Juventus in 2018.
His return to the Premier League seemed inevitable, however, and in 2021 he was back at Old Trafford, and although he immediately started in typical fashion, his decision would deteriorate, before an acrimonious departure in 2022.
His former coach Phelan, an iconic figure at the club, explained in an interview how Ronaldo’s second spell unfolded around him. with Sky Sports.
Mike Phelan explained how Cristiano Ronaldo’s second stint at Manchester United went
The Portuguese skipper left after just over a year in acrimonious circumstances in 2022.
Phelan claimed Ronaldo’s “extremely high standards” caused him to lose members of the dressing room.
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“The second time he came in a lot older, a lot more opinionated and strong-willed,” Phelan said.
“He always had extremely high standards and was great to work with. But I would probably say a tougher mindset. He had been at Man United, he had been omnipresent in Portugal, he had been at Madrid.
“I liked it because he didn’t want his standards to go down, he wanted other people’s standards to go up. And sometimes when that happens, you lose a few people along the way.
“I remember some times where he pushed and pushed hard, and he didn’t have much reaction or response. And there was frustration.
“When you’re dealing with high-level people, it’s about them and where they can finish and where they can get to. They want to look back and say “wow, that was successful”. And he probably realised, and I don’t know because I never had this conversation with him, that he couldn’t do it at Manchester United. His challenges were therefore elsewhere.
Ronaldo may have posted impressive numbers in his second tenure, returning at the age of 36, with 27 goals in 54 games, but his departure undoubtedly helped tarnish his legacy at the club.
The Portuguese skipper gave a revealing interview to Piers Morgan ahead of the World Cup in Qatar in which he expressed his frustration.
During the interview, he openly criticized the lack of “hunger” among the club’s young players compared to his first spell at United, and claimed he felt betrayed by Erik ten Hag and several senior figures. Old Trafford.
Ronaldo’s first spell at the club saw him establish himself in world football as one of the game’s best.
Player burned several bridges at Old Trafford after explosive interview with Piers Morgan
He then signed for Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr in a £175m-a-year deal.
Erik ten Hag was one of several Manchester United figures to be singled out by Ronaldo
His position at the club eventually became seemingly untenable, with him leaving by mutual consent before the end of 2022.
Ronaldo then signed for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, becoming the first big name to make the switch, signing a £175m-a-year deal with the Pro League side, where he has unsurprisingly impressed.
“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 everything we knew he could do at Manchester United.
“But a very good personality, hardworking and stimulating. He challenged me as a coach, Carlos Queiroz as a coach and Sir Alex as a manager. But it’s good because it takes you to another level.