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Cristiano Ronaldo

'Ronaldo has not come back to Man Utd to sit on the bench' - Keane rows with Carragher over Portugal star

1:15 PM IST 29/11/21
Cristiano Ronaldo Chelsea vs Man Utd Premier League 2021-22
The former Red Devils captain was stunned to see the five-time Ballon d’Or winner named among the substitutes for the Premier League trip to Chelsea

Roy Keane has questioned Manchester United’s decision to bench Cristiano Ronaldo for their Premier League clash with Chelsea, with caretaker coach Michael Carrick opting to name the Portuguese superstar among his substitutes at Stamford Bridge.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was introduced in the 64th minute as he replaced goalscorer Jadon Sancho in the 1-1 draw, but eyebrows were raised when the team sheets dropped in west London.

Former Red Devils captain Keane was baffled by the selection, with the Irishman adamant the 36-year-old forward remains the best player at Old Trafford.

What has been said?

During a heated exchange with ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports, Keane said: “Ronaldo isn't one for coming off the bench - he was probably freezing there. Ronaldo has not come back to Manchester United to sit on the bench.

“[Ronaldo leaves the pitch immediately when the final whistle sounds]. Why Carrick is trying to give him a high-five, I don't know. Let him get down the tunnel, there is nothing wrong with a player being upset. Ronaldo has not come back to Manchester United to sit on the bench. What is the point?

“He is a world-class player. His stats since he came back to the club are ok - he has got some goals and some assists. This idea that he is going to start closing people down? He's not.

"Sometimes you have to work around a superstar. I've played with players who don't do the bit you hope - the Cantonas of this world - but you forgive them because they score the winning goals in tight matches.

“Ronaldo has to be in the starting XI. This idea of resting him? Villarreal didn't take a lot out of the players and they are not playing again until Thursday night. He could have played easily.”

Why didn’t Ronaldo start?

Carrick said before kick-off that he was looking to “change things up a bit”, but Keane is not convinced.

He added: “I'd forgive some of the group games in the Champions League when you're thinking Man Utd are still going to get through, I understand that.

"But Ronaldo, if you see him in the car park, you see a player who has won everything in the game and who has come back to United to try to lift the club. Of course he will want to play in these games.

“If you were watching today and Man Utd were poor but Ronaldo is on the pitch you are still thinking 'well if the ball falls to anyone in world football, even at 36, it's Ronaldo'. It's not like he has come back to the club and not scored and you go 'he can't get up to speed, he looks awful, he's not up to speed'. He's on it. He looks interested.

“This idea that he then gets the blame for the high press - he's not pressed for four, five, six years! I said when he came back that he wasn't going to fix Manchester United's problems, but you do not bring Ronaldo back to Man Utd to sit on the bench.

“Of course he is not going to start every game, but it's Chelsea away, where it is counter-attack and you might get one or two balls into the box, and you want to drop Cristiano Ronaldo?”

The bigger picture

Ronaldo returned to English football over the summer after 12 years breaking countless records at Real Madrid and Juventus.

He committed to a two-year contract, but hinted he could extend that agreement.

Keane believes any kind of trophy would satisfy hunger for success at Old Trafford, with Ronaldo not capable of making them Premier League title challengers by himself.

He said: "He has come back for the FA Cup and the Champions League!

“They have got through to the next round of the Champions League. How much do you think that is worth to the club when you are looking at the business side of it - the Glazers, the share price? That's what he has come back for."

United, who are closing in on the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as their new interim boss, will be back in action on Thursday when they host Arsenal, a side currently sat five points and three places above them in fifth spot.

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