Cristiano Ronaldo trashed his Manchester United legacy for good by giving a petulant interview to Piers Morgan which aired Sunday.
Truthfully, his Old Trafford homecoming has been destined to end in tears since he returned to Manchester last season.
New coach Erik ten Hag is cleaning house for United, and Cristiano Ronaldo is making it easy for him. Ten Hag does not have the stature to take on Cristiano Ronaldo, the biggest boy in the playground.
However, by criticizing the club while not playing well, Ronaldo is making ten Hag’s point for him.
In the Morgan interview, Ronaldo spoke with all the grace and self awareness of a scorned divorcee posting Cillian Murphy memes on Facebook. He feels betrayed. He doesn’t respect Ralph Rangnick or Erik ten Hag. Wayne Rooney is fat. He just wants the best for United.
It was astonishing stuff. The fact is Ronaldo is 38 years old and time waits for nobody, not even him. A player as good as him can’t be blind to the fact it is counterproductive for coaches to accommodate him.
He didn’t need to do the interview to guarantee a move away from Manchester. He could probably have gone in the Summer. The problem is no top team wanted to sign him, his ego and all the financial and tactical sacrifices it would entail.
Ronaldo is defined by goals. He is defined by displays of bravado. He was, at least, defined by being the best. His career has also been defined by his rivalry with Lionel Messi, who is ageing rather more gracefully than him.
As Ronaldo throws tantrum after tantrum, Messi is winding his career down by playing very well indeed for PSG. His Argentina enter the World Cup as one of the favourites, and he may finally win the international accolades that have so far eluded him.
Messi has the chance to retire a world champion. Ronaldo will tarnish the final years of his glorious legacy at whatever team is most willing to indulge his narcissism.