Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane has launched a fresh defence of Cristiano Ronaldo, stating that the striker’s attitude hasn’t changed in recent years following criticism of his recent behaviour in the national team.
The Portugal striker was criticised by other pundits recently for throwing a strop after being substituted during Portugal’s 2-1 defeat to South Korea at the World Cup in Qatar.
His attitude reportedly led to Portugal boss Fernando Santos dropping him for his side’s 6-1 win against Switzerland on Tuesday night.
Speaking about Ronaldo’s attitude, former Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville described his antics as ‘petulant’. However, Keane, a player who shared the same dressing room with both players at Old Trafford, thinks the 37-year-old has faced similar criticism throughout his career.
“Are footballers supposed to be perfect?” Keane asked Sky Bet via the Mirror.
“ Cristiano Ronaldo had this attitude 10 years ago, but the following game he would score a hat trick, and he was 27 – everyone would forgive him. People say that he makes teams worse – Juventus haven’t done anything since he left them a couple of years ago.”
Ronaldo left Juventus to United at the beginning of the 2021/22 campaign and the Serie A giants endured their first trophyless term in over a decade. The Old Lady are also struggling this term after being knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s hopes of starting Portugal’s World Cup quarter-final against Morocco on Saturday are slim after his replacement Gonçalo Ramos scored a hat-trick on his full start.
Speaking about Ronaldo being axed from the starting XI Keane pointed out that his age is a factor and the situation should not be considered strange.
“Against Switzerland, the Portugal manager made a correct decision to replace Ronaldo with someone who offered more mobility up front. He [Ramos] scores a hat trick, and everyone looks straight to Ronaldo. I always thought there could be a chance that Ronaldo wouldn’t start a World Cup knockout game for Portugal – he’s 37!”