Cristiano Ronaldo’s former Man United coach Rene Meulensteen admits he’s ‘GLAD’ he’s not Portugal’s manager… and praises Fernando Santos for ‘showing who is boss’ by dropping the legendary forward to the bench
Manchester United’s former assistant Rene Meulensteen has lauded Portugal manager Fernando Santos for how he has handled Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup.
The Portuguese superstar was dropped to the bench for their last-16 victory against Switzerland after he reacted angrily to being substituted in their final group stage match with South Korea.
Meulensteen worked alongside Ronaldo from his arrival at Old Trafford in January 2007 to when the legendary player left for Real Madrid in the summer of 2009.
Rene Meulensteen has praised Fernando Santos’ handling of Cristiano Ronaldo in Qatar
Meulensteen worked alongside Ronaldo at Manchester United from 2007 to 2009
Speaking to talkSPORT, Meulensteen said: ‘Obviously I’m glad I’m not the manager of Portugal at the moment but I think it’s a bit sad to see that situations like that can unravel the way that it did in the biggest showcase of football on earth.
‘I think that the manager of Portugal handled it really well. Let’s be clear, it was a clear message to show everybody who is boss and to show that there is nobody bigger than what they are trying to achieve, which is to win the World Cup.
‘For me, I really and truly hope that he’s going to have some good conversations with Ronaldo to say ‘look, this is what the situation is and you can do one of two things – you can buy into it, or you can’t’.
‘I still think that there’s a role for him to play but it’s got to be on Portugal’s terms, and that’s what I think will happen.’
Santos dropped Ronaldo to the bench for their 6-1 victory over Switzerland in the World Cup
Ronaldo came on as a substitute while his replacement Goncalo Ramos netted a hat-trick
Meulensteen, who left United in June 2013, added that he doesn’t believe Santos will bring him back into the starting line-up for the quarter-final against Morocco on Saturday.
But he said: ‘Who knows, he might have to come on with 30 minutes to go and score the winner and then suddenly the whole world is turned upside-down again.’
Portugal boss Santos has a big call to make over whether he brings Ronaldo back into the starting XI for the Morocco clash.
Ronaldo’s replacement for the 6-1 victory over Switzerland, Goncalo Ramos, staked his claim to keep his place for the remainder of the tournament after scoring a stunning hat-trick.
Santos has a big decision whether to start Ronaldo or keep Ramos in the line-up on Saturday
The 37-year-old, who left United in the wake of his incendiary interview with Piers Morgan, has still stolen the headlines over the past week.
On Wednesday, there were reports he trained with the first XI rather than Portugal’s substitutes, despite coming off the bench against Switzerland.
Ronaldo and Portugal both came out to deny reports on Thursday from the nation that the free-agent had threatened to leave the camp after he was dropped to the bench.
In a tweet, the forward wrote: ‘A group too close to be broken by outside forces. A nation too brave to let itself be frightened by any adversary.
‘A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe with us! Strength, Portugal!’