Gary Neville takes fresh swipe at Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo - "They are better when he is not in the team" 

Former Manchester United player Gary Neville on Cristiano Ronaldo
Former Manchester United player Gary Neville on Cristiano Ronaldo

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has taken a fresh swipe at his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, claiming that the Portugal national team is better without the 37-year-old superstar.

Before Portugal's quarterfinal match against Morocco on Saturday, 10 December, Neville had suggested that the Portuguese manager should keep playing the same X1 which excluded Ronaldo. He said via Sky Bet:

"Portugal’s best performance of the tournament, the 6-1 win over Switzerland, was without him – and they looked much more mobile. João Felix and Bruno Fernandes really came alive. This reminds me of United – they are better when he is not in the team."

Neville is also worried about his influence on the younger players who look up to him as their idol, saying that his recent theatrics have a negative influence.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player I’ve ever seen, and despite what he may think, I love him to bits – he is unbelievable.''

He added:

"I worry about the influence he will have on other players when he refuses to be part of a team. Ronaldo is better than that. The biggest problem is that his managers at Portugal and Manchester United thought they were better without Ronaldo in the team, and he’s finding that difficult to come to terms with.''

Ronaldo was dropped from Portugal's starting X1 against Switzerland in their round of 16 clash at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday, 6 December.

Media reports claimed that he was put on the bench following a verbal disagreement with his manager Fernando Santos over his substitution in the previous game against South Korea.

However, Portuguese manager Santos clarified in his pre-match press briefing that his decision to bench Ronaldo was purely a tactical decision that included Joao Cancelo and Ruben Neves on the bench as well.

Filling the shoes of Ronaldo, Gonsalo Ramos started as the striker, scoring a wonderful hat-trick in his debut World Cup match and taking his team to the quarterfinals round with a thumping 6-1 win over Switzerland.

Portugal midfielder Otavio Monteiro clarifies Cristiano Ronaldo's reaction after Fernando Santos confirmed his exclusion from the starting X1 against Switzerland in the FIFA World Cup round of 16 clash

Cristiano Ronaldo's teammate and Portugal midfielder Otavio has told the media that the 37-year-old skipper motivated his replacement Goncalo Ramos despite getting benched in the game against Switzerland on Tuesday, 6 December.

Rubbishing media claims that Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to leave the national team after getting benched by manager Fernando Santos, he said:

“You know the first thing Ronaldo did when he found out he wouldn’t start? He went to speak to Goncalo and the rest of the team to encourage them. He’s our leader.”

He added:

“Cristiano said before, when you speak about him, you get on the front page. You never show the positives, only the negatives. You want to believe every negative story about him whilst anything positive is ‘fake’. But we are united.”

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Edited by Diptanil
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