Soccer  

I’ve ‘no problem’ with Cristiano Ronaldo

Bruno Fernandes insisted he has “no problem” with Cristiano Ronaldo, despite his Manchester United and Portugal teammate’s explosive interview claiming he felt betrayed by the club and has no respect for manager Erik ten Hag.

Ronaldo was highly critical of Man United during his interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, which aired in the UK on Wednesday and Thursday.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
– 2022 World Cup: All confirmed squad lists for Qatar

United said they would address the Portuguese forward’s comments after establishing the full facts, though sources have told ESPN that Ten Hag does not believe he can work with Ronaldo again.

Ronaldo was absent with a stomach bug as Portugal continued their preparations for the World Cup with a 4-0 victory over Nigeria in Lisbon on Thursday. Fernandes scored twice in the win and afterward stressed that all his focus is on the tournament in Qatar.

“I didn’t read the interview so I’m OK with that,” he told Sky Sports. “As I said before, now it’s the national team, it’s Portugal. The coach made a point that it’s us, he made that point since I came with the national team in 2017.

“That is still clear, that in his mind the main thing here is the national team and us so we have to be focused on the World Cup.

“You don’t have a chance to play a World Cup many times — Cristiano did really well to play five times, this will be his fifth time — so everyone is ready for that, everyone wants to give their best for the team.”

A video that circulated this week appeared to show Fernandes giving Ronaldo a frosty reception as the two greeted each other after reporting for duty with Portugal following the interview.

Fernandes, though, insisted that the clip was misleading and that a version with sound showed that the two were sharing a joke.

“This is the national team, Manchester United will be my focus after the World Cup, after December 18, because that is the final,” Fernandes added.

“I have no problem with anyone. I do my job. You have to control yourself, give your best and that’s it.”

Speaking earlier this week, fellow United player Raphael Varane did acknowledge that the interview had impacted the squad.

“Obviously it affects us,” Varane, who has been selected in France’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar, told French radio station Europe1. “We follow what is happening and what is being said.

“We try to calm the situation in our own way, we try not to get too involved in it. What is happening in the media in the big clubs is gaining momentum.

“When it’s a star like Ronaldo, even more, so we try to take it with distance, that is to say that we do not try to change the situation alone, we are part of a collective.”

In the second part of the interview that aired Thursday, Ronaldo claimed that his relationship with Ten Hag is broken after feeling “provoked” by his manager to walk out during a game against Tottenham Hotspur earlier this season.