Former Manchester United assistant coach Rene Meulensteen lauded Portugal manager Fernando Santos’ swift handling of the controversy surrounding his superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo at the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Meulensteen, who worked with Ronaldo during his first stint with the Premier League club, said, “I think it is a bit sad to see that situations like that can unravel the way that it did in the biggest showcase of football on earth.”
“For me, I really and truly hope that he is going to have some good conversations with Ronaldo to say ‘look, this is what the situation is and you can do one of two things – you can buy into it, or you cannot,” added the former Kerala Blasters coach.
Ronaldo, on Wednesday, was benched by Santos as he preferred 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos for the centre-forward role against Switzerland in the round of 16 clash. The Benfica player scored a hat-trick as Portugal beat Switzerland 6-1 to set up a quarterfinal clash against Morocco. Ronaldo came on the pitch in the 73rd minute. After the match ended, he walked off the pitch alone as his teammates were busy celebrating the win.
The 37-year-old player is currently without a club since Manchester United terminated his contract midway through the Premier League season after his controversial interview with Piers Morgan.
Meulensteen, now an assistant coach with Socceroos, said Ronaldo still has a role to play in Portugal’s FIFA World Cup 2022 campaign.
“I still think that there’s a role for him to play but it is got to be on Portugal’s terms, and that’s what I think will happen,” said the 58-year-old.