Former Manchester United coach Mike Phelan says Cristiano Ronaldo may have lost the support of some of his teammates due to his exceptionally high standards during his ill-fated second spell at Old Trafford.
The ex-Real Madrid and Juventus forward enjoyed a dream start to life at the Theatre of Dreams in 2021, bagging a brace in his home debut against Newcastle United.
However, things subsequently turned sour for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner following the arrival of Erik ten Hag, which culminated in his acrimonious departure in 2022.
Phelan, who spent two stints as an assistant coach with the club, has offered some insight into how Ronaldo’s second spell unravelled around him.
“The second time around, he came in a lot older and a lot more opinionated, strong-willed,” Phelan said in an interview with Sky Sports.
“He still had massively high standards and was terrific to work with. But I’d probably say a tougher mindset. He had been at Man United, he had been Portugal’s ever-present, he had been at Madrid.
“I liked it because he didn’t want his standards to drop – he wanted other people’s standards to come up. And sometimes you lose a few people along the way when that happens.
“I remember certain times when he pushed and pushed hard, and he didn’t get much reaction or much response. And there was frustration.
“When you deal with top, top people, it’s about them and where they can finish and where they can get to. They want to look back and go ‘wow, that was successful’.
“And he probably realised, and I don’t know as I never had that conversation with him, that he couldn’t do it at Manchester United. So his challenges were elsewhere.”
While Ronaldo registered impressive numbers in his second stint – bagging 27 goals in 54 games – his controversial departure undoubtedly tarnished his legacy at the club to a certain degree.
The Portugal captain subsequently signed for Al-Nassr, becoming the first big-name player to move to Saudi Arabia and has unsurprisingly impressed, bagging 20 goals in 24 games for the Riyadh giants.
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