Cristiano Ronaldo laid down the gauntlet this week to his Manchester United teammates in an open and honest interview with Sky Sports.
The 36-year-old wouldn’t have envisaged the Reds being as low as seventh in the Premier League table when making his emotional return to Old Trafford.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has said it is not acceptable for the Red Devils to be aiming for anything less than a top-three Premier League finish.
United’s number seven also claimed that he didn’t return to the Theatre of Dreams to be scrapping for Champions League qualification, he instead came back to compete for big trophies.
Being brutally honest, Ronaldo said: “I don’t accept that our mentality be less than being in the top three in the Premier League.
“I think to build up good things, sometimes you have to destroy a few things. So why not – new year, new life and I hope that Manchester (United) can be the level that the fans want. They deserve that.
“We are capable of changing things now. I know the way but I’m not going to mention it here because I don’t think it’s ethical on my part to say that.
“What I can say is we can do better – all of us. Manchester (United) belongs to important things, so we have to change that.
“I don’t want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I’m here to try to win, to compete.
“I think we compete but we are not yet in our best level. But we have a long way to improve and I believe if we change our mind, we can achieve big things.”
How will Cristiano Ronaldo’s comments go down in the United dressing room?
Ronaldo has already given his backing to the club’s interim boss Ralf Rangnick, and he is no stranger to criticising his teammates via the media.
He did the same during his time at Real Madrid, which helped propel the team towards Champions League success.
But the Portuguese international’s comments this time around could go either way in a seemingly vulnerable and delicate Manchester United dressing room.
It is hoped that Ronaldo’s comments unite and inspire his teammates, but his remarks could see some United players not take kindly to being called out via the media.
The best case scenario is United kick on, finish in the top four, win the FA Cup and go far in the Champions League.
The worst case scenario is United’s season fizzles out without trace, we finish outside the top four and we go into the summer with a 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo expressing his desire to leave Manchester United, for the second time in his career.
There is arguably no better clutch player in the history of football and the serial winner is desperate to win again with his beloved Manchester United.
But he is seemingly perplexed by the glaringly lack of a winning culture within the Manchester United of 2022.
The club has drastically fallen since he left the club for the first time in 2009. We are trying to climb the mountain once again, but since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 there have been repeated and sustained lulls of next to no progression.
If Cristiano Ronaldo’s comments don’t ignite a fire in his teammates bellies then Manchester United’s season could hit further road blocks.
But if his criticism pulls the group together and his honest views prove the catalyst to United kicking on under Rangnick, then his interview could well be seen as the moment that defined our season.
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