Cristiano Ronaldo has rejected suggestions that a lack of team spirit has contributed to Real Madrid’s slow start in La Liga – saying he took a similarly distant approach to squad friendships at Manchester United.
Speaking before Madrid’s Champions League first-leg match at Roma, Ronaldo was asked if his cool relationships with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale had played a part in their apparent lack of on-pitch chemistry this season.
“When I was at Manchester winning the Champions League, with some players like [Ryan] Giggs, [Rio] Ferdinand and [Paul] Scholes our discussions were limited to ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good night.’
“But when we were on the pitch together there was total understanding. I don’t need to go out for dinner with Benzema or Bale. What counts is what happens on the pitch.”
Ronaldo is among the Spanish league’s top scorers with 21 goals, and has scored 11 in the group phase of the Champions League – but he has been criticised for his inability to score away from home since November.
“I’m used to it,” he said. “It’s like when you always give kids everything and then when you take something away they start to cry. I’ve made the press and fans so used to me always scoring a lot of goals that as soon as I let up for a second, well the journalists don’t cry but they begin writing all sorts of stuff.
“Let’s just say that I would be happy to continue with this not-so-perfect form until the end of the season … If you can name one player who has scored more away goals than me since I arrived in Spain tell me who? No. There’s nobody.” Ronaldo then got up and walked out .
Ferdinand later laughed off Ronaldo’s comments on BT Sport, saying: “He’s gone off me! He used to live next door to me. Unbelievable! I actually used to take the mick out of him in the changing rooms, I think he’s got the hump. He used to come in in tight jeans and we used to murder him. He didn’t get it.”
Ferdinand said Ronaldo’s spiky press conference performance “just shows the emotion he’s got in him, and the desire to win … At the moment everyone’s talking about Barcelona and he’s not happy with that. And that’s his competitive streak coming out.”