Cristiano Ronaldo praised by Gary Neville and Roy Keane

Cristiano Ronaldo’s enduring quality has been praised by his former Manchester United teammates Gary Neville and Roy Keane.

Neville acknowledged that Ronaldo has come in for some criticism, having scored just one goal in 2022 so far.

But both he and Keane underlined the role that the overall standard of the current United side and their performances have played in his inability to score as many as he might have liked recently.

Speaking on the Overlap Live, Keane and Neville both hailed Ronaldo, who turned 37 earlier this month.

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“2005 to 2009, he was like something I’ve never seen – out of this world. What he’s still doing now is exceptional, to be fair, at the age that he is.

“The goals he’s scoring, the fitness levels, the games he plays. At the moment, it’s not going well at United. He’s getting a bit of (flak) right now, they all are.

“That’s likely because he’s the greatest player in the world.”

Roy Keane added: “The hardest part of football is scoring goals – by far. To create week in week out – this United team is not that strong but he is still a quality player.

“He’s one of the world’s greatest but he was never going to get United back winning trophies, not on his own. United needed a lot more.”

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Ronaldo has 15 goals to his name so far since coming back to Old Trafford and he almost single-handedly hauled United into the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

Few would bet against him making the difference in the second leg of the last 16 tie with Atletico Madrid, a foe he has seen off so often in his career so far.

He is a man for the big occasion and the likes of Anthony Elanga must be so glad of the chance to learn from him every day in training.

As Neville says, there will always be chatter about Ronaldo because he is one of the greatest players to ever play the game but he tends to shut that out and focus on the next goal and the next win.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.