Manchester United beat Fulham 2-1 on Sunday to sign off for the World Cup on a high. At least, the club thought that was the case.
Then the first snippets of Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell interview with Piers Morgan came out on Sunday night.
The United forward did not hold back, revealing he has ‘no respect’ for manager Erik Ten Hag, did not even know who former boss Ralf Rangnick was, and labelled the Red Devils a ‘marketing club’.
Ronaldo has hit out at Erik Ten Hag, Ralf Rangnick and Man United in a tell-all interview
Ronaldo has told his side of the story after a frustrating start to the season at Old Trafford
He also threw in digs at former team-mates Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville for good measure.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has been widely condemned for his behaviour, but there are still some people who are standing by him.
Sportsmail has taken a look at who remains on his side, and who has turned against the Portuguese star.
Who is sticking with Ronaldo?
Souness has stuck up for Ronaldo for some time, hailing him as one of the best players in the history of the sport.
The 69-year-old Scotsman appeared on talkSPORT on Monday, and continued to defend Ronaldo by suggesting that the striker has been lied to by the club and had every right to tell his side of the story.
‘I certainly do,’ Souness said when asked whether he still defends Ronaldo.
‘I come back to it, there’s a meeting, two people speak, two people leave the room with an understanding and someone has not kept their word.
Graeme Souness has claimed Ronaldo has every right to ‘air his grievance’ with Man United
‘He has never spoken. He feels it is time for him to come out and tell his side of the story. This is a player who in many people’s eyes is the greatest player to have ever kicked a ball.’
‘I think he has been told a story and the manager has not kept it. Then you look at what has happened after this so-called agreement… he doesn’t bring him on against City out of respect.
‘A couple of weeks later against Tottenham he wants to bring him on with two minutes to go when the game is won, what can Ronaldo do there? And then he makes him captain.
‘Looking at it from both sides, I’ve been a player, I’ve been a manager, I think the player has a grievance and he is entitled to air his grievance.’
Morais spent three years with Ronaldo when he was an assistant coach at Real Madrid.
Some may judge Ronaldo’s interview as ill-advised, but Morais has labelled the attacker as ‘sensible and down-to-earth’. He also took an apparent swipe at Ten Hag for not getting the most out of a ‘special player’.
‘Working with Cristiano was one of the best moments I have as a coach. He is a fantastic person and a stratospheric player,’ Morais told A Bola.
‘I don’t say “UFO” because he is a human being. He would be more of a “Human of Unidentified Characteristics”. Such is the enormity of his ability and talent.
Ronaldo’s former coach Jose Morais has labelled him a ‘sensible and down-to-earth’ person
‘To have a player like him, is to be a blessed coach. Cristiano is, without a doubt, a sensible and down-to-earth person.’
Speaking about Ronaldo’s current situation, Morais added: ‘I’m just saying that you have to be a special coach to train special players.
‘Being a special coach implies knowing how to deal with situations like the one that is happening. Positive communication.
‘The establishment of trust depends on factors that relate to the individual’s personal development. The best coach is better able to deal with these situations.’
Ronaldo might be struggling for allies in Manchester right now, but he’s still got some in his homeland.
He came through Sporting Lisbon’s academy as a youngster and broke into the first-team before joining United for the first time in 2003.
Ronaldo was linked with a sensational return to Sporting in the summer, although the move failed to materialise.
The club’s current manager Ruben Amorim has revealed that Ronaldo remains a popular figure at the Portuguese club despite his off-field antics, and has backed Ronaldo to decide his own future.
Sporting Lisbon boss Ruben Amorim has said Ronaldo is well-liked at the Portuguese club
‘I’ve been asked this question a thousand times. Ronaldo is a Manchester United player,’ Amorim said when asked whether the club could make another move to bring their former player back.
‘Everyone at Sporting likes him, there’s not much to say. He himself says he wants to do things in peace to follow his future. He will decide his future.
‘I won’t be here telling you how things are for me. In the summer it became obvious that things don’t all pass me by. There’s the club, there’s the structure. He’s a Manchester United player.’
Ronaldo’s tell-all interview has come on the eve of his fifth World Cup. Given that United team-mates Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot are also in the Portugal squad, it seems that there is the potential for a split in the national team if they are offended by his words.
Holding midfielder Danilo Pereira has denied this will be the case, though, and has insisted that the team will be doing everything they can to help Ronaldo shine in Qatar, so that they can go all the way in the tournament.
‘There will be criticism because Cristiano is a player who sells a lot, he is a player who is talked about every day,’ Danilo said.
Danilo (L) has said Portugal will come together to help Ronaldo score goals at the World cup
‘If he’s bad, people will talk. If he’s okay, people will talk. So, we within the group see this naturally.
‘It’s normal for Cristiano, being the strongest point of the national team, to have more spotlight on him.
‘We’re going to throw more balls at him, we’re going to try to get him to score goals and he will also demand that.
‘It’s natural that there is this conversation because people think we play for Cristiano, but that’s not the case. We play to win games.’
Morgan conducted the interview with Ronaldo, and has revealed that he was approached by his ‘good friend’ rather than the other way around.
Having heard what Ronaldo has to say, Morgan is still on his side, and has even claimed he wants his beloved Arsenal to sign Ronaldo in January to take Mikel Arteta’s men to the Premier League title.
Piers Morgan has backed Ronaldo and would be happy to see him join Arsenal in January
‘He’s exactly what we need. @Cristiano & @gabrieljesus9 would take us to the title,’ Morgan tweeted on Sunday night after being asked whether he would take Ronaldo at the Emirates Stadium.
Morgan then went on to write in The Sun: ‘I first interviewed Cristiano three years ago in Turin and we ended up having a four-hour dinner. Since then, we’ve become very unlikely but very good friends. We text and speak a lot, and he has always been incredibly honest with me.’
Ronaldo does not appear to have many United legends standing by him, but Schmeichel is one of them.
The former Danish goalkeeper, who won five league titles and the Champions League during his eight-year stay at Old Trafford, has declared himself a ‘fan of Ronaldo’, and wants him to sit down with United to figure out a solution where he manages to stay at the club.
‘I believe in fairy tales,’ Schmeichel told BBC Radio 5 Live.
Peter Schmeichel wants Ronaldo stay at United despite his comments about the club
‘I’m a big big fan of Ronaldo. I’ve always been a big fan of him. And I’m a big fan of Manchester United having the best players in the world.
‘I hope there will be an opportunity where his people and Manchester United can sit down, and talk this through, and find a solution.
‘I really want Cristiano to stay a Manchester United player.’
Ronaldo’s sisters have had his back throughout his career, and that hasn’t changed since his interview with Morgan.
One of his siblings, Elma Aveiro took to social media to Sunday night to post a series of Instagram stories in support of her brother.
In her first story, she wrote: ‘I am not silent about doors that I will hardly open again out of pride, but more out of respect for myself.’
Elma Aveiro (R) has declared herself ‘proud’ of her brother for speaking out in public
Aveiro followed that up by posting: ‘I will always be proud of you my dear.’
She later declared that Ronaldo is the ‘biggest pride of my life’, and claimed ‘the truth is being told’ when he spoke about not respecting Ten Hag as he has felt disrespected by the Dutch coach.
Who has turned against Ronaldo?
Ferdinand is perhaps the most surprising person to turn against Ronaldo.
The former England international played his part in convincing his ex-team-mate to return to Old Trafford in the first place, and has previously been critical of Ten Hag for his lack of communication with Ronaldo.
However, he has admitted that he cannot defend Ronaldo’s actions after his interview, and Ferdinand doesn’t think there is a way back for the forward at the club.
‘You can’t sit here and defend that from Cristiano Ronaldo,’ Ferdinand told the Vibe with Five podcast.
Rio Ferdinand has admitted he cannot ‘defend’ Ronaldo after his bombshell interview
‘Deep down and I know it for a fact, this has all been manufactured for one thing – and that’s for him to leave the club.
‘This love affair with Man United that Cristiano has had is over in my eyes. I don’t feel there’s anyway back, I don’t feel the club will take him back and I don’t think that he wants to come back. This is all manufactured for that reason.
‘Up to this interview I would defend him, and say the club have a big responsibility to communicate better.’
To be fair, Neville and Ronaldo had been off each other’s Christmas card lists for a while after the Portugal star snubbed Neville at Old Trafford last month.
But now, Neville knows exactly what Ronaldo thinks about him. Ronaldo has accused Neville of using his name for fame.
Speaking during his interview with Morgan, Ronaldo said: ‘It’s easy to criticise, I don’t know if you have a job in television that they must criticise to be more famous. I really don’t understand it.
‘It’s hard when you see people who was in the dressing room with you criticising that way.
Gary Neville has been accused of using Ronaldo’s name to boost his fame in the media
‘I think they take advantage of that because they are not stupid. I’m the No 1 followed guy in the world. It’s not by coincidence.’
Ronaldo has also been criticised by Wayne Rooney recently, and he has said he has no intention of holding clear-the-air talks with the pair.
‘They are not my friends, they are colleagues. We play together, they’re not coming, we’re not ever having dinner together,’ he added.
Neville did not appear to be particular fussed by Ronaldo not wanting to be his friend, as he joked on Twitter: ‘Anyone for dinner?’
Let’s move on to Rooney next. United and England’s all-time top goalscorer called Ronaldo’s behaviour this season ‘unacceptable’ even before he’d gone ahead with the interview.
Ronaldo then went on to hint that Rooney was jealous of him for still playing at the highest level, and also poked fun at Rooney’s looks.
‘I don’t know why he criticises me so badly,’ Ronaldo said to Morgan about Rooney.
Wayne Rooney has been left bemused by Ronaldo’s comments about him being jealous of his former team-mate
‘Probably because he finished his career and I’m still playing at a high level’
‘I’m not going to say that I’m looking better than him. Which is true…’
Rooney is understood to be bemused by Ronaldo’s comments, but has not released a public statement yet.
Carragher has slammed United in the past for re-signing Ronaldo from Juventus last year, and has urged the club to move him on for some time.
Therefore, it is little surprise that he has hit out at Ronaldo for his interview, describing his conduct as ‘bang out of order’, and concluding that the forward wants to be sacked.
‘I just thought the comments were bizarre,’ Carragher said on Sky Sports.
‘They were bang out of order considering with the timing of it as well on the back of Manchester United getting a winning goal with the last kick of the game [against Fulham]. It gives them an excitement over the next month for when the league starts again.
Jamie Carragher has poked fun at Ronaldo after his tense handshake with Bruno Fernandes
‘He wants to be sacked, that’s obvious. He told the club in the summer that he wanted to leave, which is football – these things happen. There were no takers, maybe because of his wages or the price Manchester United wanted.
‘I think he knows that’s going to be the same in this next transfer window and maybe the following summer and he is now trying to be sacked or wants to leave on a free. That’s the only way he’s going to get out.
Carragher has also had a little fun at Ronaldo’s expense after footage emerged of the star sharing a frosty handshake with Bruno Fernandes at Portugal training on Monday.
The former Liverpool defender likened the moment to his own awkward handshake with friend and former Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard earlier this year.
Ronaldo has found game time hard to come by at Old Trafford this season, starting just four league matches under Erik Ten Hag.
Jenas thinks he has now played for United for the last time, and has admitted he’s ‘confused’ and ‘baffled’ as to why Ronaldo did the interview.
‘First of all, I’m totally baffled and confused as to why he’s done this interview. I think it leads you to just how Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously feeling right now and how he’s felt all season,’ Jenas said on MOTD2.
Jermaine Jenas thinks Ronaldo cannot be involved at United anymore after his comments
‘We’ve seen nothing but, almost petulance, throughout the whole year. I think the whole situation has been mismanaged by the club.
‘It enables (boss Erik ten Hag) to elevate his position at the football club when he treats Cristiano a certain way. It enables (him) to get the dressing room to fall in line. At the same time, Ronaldo has to behave in line with how the rest of the team does.
‘He can’t play him now. He can’t be involved in the team now.’