Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed he was “close” to moving to Manchester City last summer but Sir Alex Ferguson’s intervention saw him choose Manchester United instead.
Ronaldo also said other clubs were interested in signing him from Juventus in 2021 but the 37-year-old followed “his heart” and rejoined United, despite them not initially being in the running for him.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also hit out at young players for “not caring” or listening to his advice and claimed they “have it too easy”.
But he praised United team-mates Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez and Casimero for their professionalism while he labelled the club’s former skipper Roy Keane as his “best ever captain”.
Man Utd calm about Ronaldo interview
Manchester United will not make a decision on Cristiano Ronaldo’s future until they see the full interview with Piers Morgan and remain calm about the situation, Sky Sports News’ Dharmesh Sheth reports.
Sky Sports News understands that Man United don’t accept some of the criticism Ronaldo made in the clips that have been aired so far.
Ronaldo criticised the club for a lack of investment in the 13 years since he left Old Trafford but sources have insisted United have invested in their facilities – notably the training ground, restaurant and swimming pool.
Ronaldo was also critical of Erik ten Hag but again sources insist Ronaldo was treated with respect by the club and the manager – in news conferences, Erik ten Hag always maintained Ronaldo had been given time off to deal with family matters.
In clips previously aired this week from his interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, Ronaldo was also critical of former United interim manager Ralf Rangnick and United’s lack of investment in recent years.
Read the best bits from part one of the interview below.
‘City move was close but Sir Alex changed everything’
“Well, honestly, it [moving to City] was close. They spoke a lot and Guardiola said two weeks ago that they tried hard to have me.
“But, as you know, my history is in Manchester United. Your heart, you’re feeling the way you did before, and it made the difference. And of course, as well, Sir Alex Ferguson. It was a conscious decision because the heart speaks loud in that moment.
“I think it [speaking with Ferguson] was the key. I wouldn’t say that Manchester City wasn’t close. But I think, I did [make] a conscious decision. I don’t regret at some point.
“And as you mentioned before, Sir Alex Ferguson was the key. I spoke with him… He said to me that ‘It’s impossible for you to come to Manchester City’. And I said ‘OK, Boss’.
“So I took the decisions and I repeat: I was with conscience that it was a good decision.
“It was a good moment, nobody expected it. Things changed around in 72 hours. You plan or they spoke, not only Man City but other clubs too. Manchester United wasn’t part of those teams but it surprised everybody, even me.”
Ronaldo criticises youngsters but praises Dalot and Martinez
“They [the young players] live in a different era. My kid is 12-years-old, the mentality is not the same. The anger [is the difference], they have things more easily. They don’t suffer. And they don’t care. I don’t mean only a few at Manchester United, I mean in all teams.
“The new generation and the new technologies, they distract them. But they are not the same [in the way] that they listen but this is why we have two ears, as you listen from one side and they go away from another side.
“So, it doesn’t surprise me. But in the same way, it’s a little bit [of a] shame because if they have the best examples in front of eyes, and if they don’t, at least copy what [they] did.
“For me, it’s kind of weird, because I remember when I was 18, 19, 20, I always looked to see the best players: (Ruud) Van Nistelrooy, (Rio) Ferdinand, Roy Keane, and (Ryan) Giggs – this is why I have the success that I have and longevity. Because I take care of my body, my mentality, my head, because I see these guys and I learn from them.
“I’m not the kind of guy who likes to give advice as I prefer to be an example. Because I’m an example. I’m there every morning and do the same stuff. I’m probably the first one to arrive and the last one to go out. I think the details speak for itself. As I told you before, they listen to one thing and in two minutes they have already forgotten and do what they think is better. This is why I say, I like to lead by example and some ones they follow me – but not much.
Asked whether they are interested in listening to his advice, Ronaldo replied: “They don’t care – some, yes, but most of them, no. But for me that is not surprising because they are not going to have longevity in their careers. It is impossible. In my generation you see many players reach 36, 37, 38 at a high level and I think this generation you will count on one hand how many will reach that level.
Asked which players he admires in the modern day, he responded: “I only can say what I see from my eyes. In Manchester United, I can mention Dalot. An example he is young and very professional. I have no doubt he will have longevity in football. He’s young, smart, intelligent and he’s very professional.
“We have a few young ones more, but it’s difficult. Probably Martinez, Casemiro is in his 30s – but I’d say Dalot.”
‘Keane the best captain I ever had’
Reacting to support from former United team-mates Rio Ferdinand and Keane, Ronaldo said: “It means a lot because I was in the dressing room with them. They are part of my journey as well.
“Roy Keane was my best captain ever. Rio Ferdinand was a big help for me, he was my neighbour.
“They’re really good guys, not just because they speak good about me but they are football players, they know how players are thinking and the way we behave.”
But responding to criticism from former United team-mates Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville, he said: “People can have their own opinions.
“They don’t really know what’s going on at the training ground, they have to listen to my point of view as well. It’s easy to criticise if they don’t know the whole story.
“They are not my friends, they are colleagues. We played together but we’re not having dinner together. It’s part of my journey, they keep criticising me with negativity every time. I can continue my trip and I have to catch up with people who like me.”
‘I never saw Rangnick as the boss’
Ronaldo said of Rangnick: “Of course, we have to call [him that] because he assumed the job regardless.
“All the coaches that I had in my career, I call them boss because if they assume the job we have to call in that way.
“But in the end, deep inside me, I never saw him as the boss because I saw some points [where] I never agreed [with him].
When asked if he felt that Rangnick and his coaching team knew what they were doing, he added: “No, they [did not]. They knew the club very well. But they [did not] know the main dimension of the club inside, the history of the club. Which, for me, surprised me even more.
“When you sack Ole Solskjaer, you should bring in a top manager, not a sporting director.
“Of course [it was ridiculous], you have to be honest. If you are not even a coach, how are you going to be the boss of Manchester United? They have not followed the right way to follow the likes of Liverpool or Manchester City.
“They are a few steps behind. They should improve and change that staff or the directors, the presidents. I don’t know who is the problem there.”
‘Solskjaer did a good job, you need more time’
Speaking of former United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ronaldo said: “I love Solskjaer. I think he was a top person, because what I keep inside my heart, it’s the heart of the person. And Ole for me, is a top person.
“It’s hard. It’s hard to assume [the role] after Sir Alex Ferguson, but I think he did a good job for sure.
“You need much more time. But I never doubt that [he is] going to be a good coach in the future. But it was a good experience. I was so pleased to work with him even for a short period.”
‘United have stopped on a clock – it surprised me’
“When I signed for Manchester United… I thought everything would be different, you know, the technology, the infrastructures and everything. But I was surprised, in a bad way, let’s say in that way, because I saw everything was the same.
“They stopped on a clock, in my opinion, which is something that surprised me.
“At United, the progress was zero, in my opinion. To compare with Real Madrid and even Juventus, they follow the rest of the world. So the technology, especially in terms of training, nutrition and conditions of eating properly and recovering better than before – surprised me.
“Manchester right now, to compare with that club, I think it’s behind in my opinion, which is something that surprised me. A club with this dimension should be the top of the tree in my opinion and they are not, unfortunately. They are not in that level. But I hope the next years they can reach to be in a top level.
“I don’t know what’s going on but since Sir Alex Ferguson left I saw no evolution in the club, the progress was zero.”
Piers Morgan Uncensored: 90 Minutes with Ronaldo is on TalkTV tonight and Thursday at 8pm.