Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed he was “on the verge” of a move to Manchester City last summer and Sir Alex Ferguson’s intervention saw him choose Manchester United instead.
Speaking to Piers Morgan on TalkTV, The 37-year-old revealed his criticism of United, manager Erik ten Hag and other aspects of his life.
The interview began when Ronaldo admitted he was close to joining Manchester United over Juventus last summer, but insisted he had no regrets about returning to Old Trafford.
“Well, honestly [moving to City] he was close. He spoke a lot and Guardiola said two weeks ago that he tried to stay with me.” Ronaldo said. “But, as you know, my history is with Manchester United. Your heart, you feel the way you used to, and it changed. And, of course, Sir Alex Ferguson. It was a conscious decision because the heart speaks louder at this time.
“I think so [speaking with Ferguson] it was the key. I can’t say Manchester City weren’t close. But I guess, I did [make] a conscious decision. I will never regret it again.
“And as you said before, Sir Alex Ferguson was a mystery. I spoke to him… He told me, ‘It’s impossible for you to come to Manchester City’. And I said ‘OK, Sir’.
“So I took the decision and repeated it: I had a conscience that it was the right decision.
“It was a good moment, no one expected it. Things changed in 72 hours. You prepare or they spoke, not only Man City but other clubs. Manchester United was not part of those teams but it surprised everyone, even me.”
‘United stopped at halftime – it surprised me’
However, Ronaldo’s views on United quickly changed, slamming the club for their lack of investment in infrastructure which “surprised” him.
Man Utd are calm about the Ronaldo talks
Manchester United will not make a decision on the future of Cristiano Ronaldo until they see all the discussions with Piers Morgan and remain calm on the matter.
Sky Sports News understands that Man United do not accept any of the criticism Ronaldo has made in the videos that have been broadcast so far.
Ronaldo has criticized the club for a lack of money in the 13 years since he left Old Trafford, but sources insist United have invested in their facilities – particularly the training facilities, restaurant and swimming pool.
Ronaldo also criticized Erik ten Hag but sources say Ronaldo was respected by the club and the manager – in press conferences, Erik ten Hag always confirmed that Ronaldo was given time off to deal with family issues.
“When I signed for Manchester United… I thought everything would be different, you know, technology, construction and everything. But I was surprised, badly, let’s say that way, because I saw everything was right. the same.
“They stopped on the clock, in my opinion, which surprised me.
“At United, the progress was zero, in my opinion. To compare with Real Madrid and Juventus, they follow the rest of the world. So technology, especially in terms of education, nutrition and the culture of eating properly and recovering better than before – I was surprised.
“Manchester right now, to compare that club, I think it’s behind in my opinion, which surprised me. A club with this level should be at the top of the table in my opinion and they’re not, unfortunately. Not in that level, but I hope in the coming years they may be at a higher level.
“I don’t know what’s going on but since Sir Alex Ferguson left, I haven’t seen any progress in the club, zero progress.”
‘I have never seen Rangnick as a boss’
Ronaldo also had kind words for former United manager Ralf Rangnick, who was appointed as interim manager after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked 12 months ago.
The 37-year-old admitted he had never heard of the German manager and felt he was not “the boss” at United.
“Sure, we have to make a phone call [him that] because he did the job regardless,” said Ronaldo. “All the coaches I had in my career, I call them boss because if they take the job we have to call it this way.
“But in the end, in my heart, I never saw him as a boss because I saw other points [where] I didn’t agree [with him].
Asked if he felt Rangnick and his coaching staff knew what they were doing, he added: “No, they do [did not]. He knew the group very well. But they [did not] to know the main part of the club inside, the history of the club. Which, to me, was a big surprise.
“When you sack Ole Solskjaer, you have to bring in a general manager, not a sporting director.”
‘Solskjaer has done a good job, you need more time’
As for Solskjaer, Ronaldo spoke highly of the former United boss and said the Norwegian manager had done a “good job” at Old Trafford before Rangnick joined.
“I like Solskjær,” Ronaldo said. “I think he was a great man, because what I keep inside my heart, is the heart of the people. And Ole for me, he is a great man.
“It’s hard. It’s hard to imagine [the role] after Sir Alex Ferguson, but I think he did a good job for sure.
“You need more time. But I doubt you will be a good teacher in the future. But it was great. I enjoyed working with him even for a short time.”
‘I’m a role model… young players are no longer the same’
Ronaldo also criticized the young players of this generation of footballers, saying that they are not the same as when he passed.
The 37-year-old also said he was a “role model” for young players to follow and credited former United players he grew up with for their success.
“I am not the type of person who likes to give advice as much as I like to be an example. Because I am an example,” he said.
“I’m there every morning doing the same thing. I’m probably the first one in and the last one out. I think the detail speaks for itself. That’s why I say, I like to lead by example. .
“[In] all the leagues in the world, the smallest [players] now, they are not like my generation. But we can’t blame them because, it’s part of life, you know.
“The new generation and the new technologies, it confuses them. But it’s not the same [in the way] that they listen but this is why we have two ears, when you listen from one side and they listen from the other side.
“So, it doesn’t surprise me. But it’s also a little bit [of a] shame because if they have good examples in front of them, and if they don’t, at least based on what [they] he said.
“For me, it’s amazing, because I remember when I was 18, 19, 20 years old, 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 I have and longevity. Because I take care of my body, my mind, my head, because I see these guys and I learn from them. “
Piers Morgan Uncensored: 90 minutes with Ronaldo is on TalkTV tonight and Thursday at 8pm.