Rio Ferdinand has claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo’s team-mates are unable to handle the pressure that he has brought to the club since he returned to Manchester United.
Ronaldo moved back to Old Trafford at the start of last season after 12 years away from the club, but his return has not pushed the Red Devils any nearer to winning the Premier League.
United sunk to a new low on Saturday when they were beaten 4-0 by Brentford, and Ferdinand believes the squad are struggling to cope with the added scrutiny now that Ronaldo is back in the ranks.
Cristiano Ronaldo has told Man United he wants to leave, and his attitude has been questioned
Rio Ferdinand does not think Ronaldo’s mood is the biggest problem at United right now
‘I think maybe Cristiano’s stature, he’s not a talker and someone who’s going to sit down at a table and talk to people, but he’s more: “you’re going to watch me and you’re going to learn,” Ferdinand told the VIBE with FIVE podcast.
‘And the aura that he has and being one of the best players ever, I think, could be a burden on some of these players and they’re not able to handle that pressure that’s coming from someone like him.’
Ronaldo made his first start of the season at Brentford after telling United that he wants to leave the club last month.
His future remains uncertain, and it has been reported that the club are concerned that his mood is affecting dressing room morale, with the 37-year-old understood to be sitting away from his team-mates during meal times.
It has been suggested that Ronaldo is providing new manager Erik ten Hag with another headache that he doesn’t need after a disastrous start to his tenure in the dugout.
However, Ferdinand has defended Ronaldo, insisting that there are bigger issues for the club to sort out than their star striker’s attitude.
Erik ten Hag has endured a dismal start to his reign in the United dugout thus far
Responding to criticism of Ronaldo, Ferdinand said: ‘I don’t know how you keep picking Ronaldo out like he’s the problem.
‘There’s so many other players in this squad that are doing less and contributing less. You keep calling him (out) because he’s the big name.’
Ten Hag’s reign has got off to the worst possible start, with the Dutchman becoming the first United manager in over a century to lose his opening two matches.
It appears ten Hag may have to take drastic measures to try to salvage United’s season, and Ferdinand has proposed that he should look to give some of the young players the chance to shine.
Ferdinand has previously been reluctant to advocate bringing young talents into the starting XI, but he has now changed his mind after watching United’s latest showing at Brentford.
‘I’m going to back track and I’d have to agree with you right now after shutting you down last time, and you went, “do you know what, throw the kids in”. I would,’ Ferdinand said, addressing United fan Stephen Howson on the podcast.
‘Because when you don’t give effort, you don’t deserve to get the shirt. When you don’t get the right application, you don’t deserve to get the shirt. When you don’t have the balls to play, you don’t deserve to get the shirt. When you’re not running yourself into the ground, you don’t deserve to wear the shirt.
Ferdinand would like to see youngsters like James Garner (above) given a chance to shine
He would also welcome Charlie Savage being given an opportunity in the starting XI
‘There’s young kids in there like you say, Jimmy Garner, Charlie Savage, Zidane (Iqbal). Whether they’re good enough in terms of actual players in the long run is not the point for me. I think it’s beyond that. You need to send a message to people and say: “you ain’t just going to keep getting this shirt”.
‘Mistake after mistake, lack of application every week, desire not there, moaning behind the scenes probably. I bet they’re all moaning and pointing the finger. It’s not good enough, so put the kids in.’
Ferdinand’s comments come amid reports linking midfielder James Garner with a move away from Old Trafford.
The Athletic has reported that United are willing to let Garner leave for just £14m this summer, despite their current issues in the middle of the park.