Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out at ex-Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney over his criticism of the Portuguese star and suggested he is jealous because his career is over.
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Rooney, who played alongside the five-time Ballon d’Or winner for five years at Old Trafford, had slated Ronaldo for his refusal to come on as a substitute against Tottenham.
With the Red Devils two goals ahead, the 37-year-old stormed down the tunnel before the game ended and was subsequently axed by Erik ten Hag, made to train with the youth team and fined two weeks’ wages.
Rooney felt the punishment was vindicated, describing Ronaldo’s conduct as ‘unacceptable’, while he also claimed United were a better team without the former Real star.
Ronaldo gave an explosive interview on Sunday in which he blasted Ten Hag over the incident, claiming he would ‘never respect’ the Dutchman, while he has also taken aim at Rooney over his remarks.
Speaking to Piers Morgan Uncensored, Ronaldo said: ‘I don’t know why he criticises me so badly… 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 had not been negative about Ronaldo and felt he could still be an asset for United if he ‘got his head down’ – though Sunday’s bombshell interview means he has not listened to the advice.
Asked about Ronaldo’s behaviour, and whether Manchester United are a better team with him in the team, Rooney told talkSPORT on Friday: ‘No, I don’t think so.
‘I think the career he’s had, him and Lionel Messi are probably the two best players of all time – and you can go either way with that [which one of them is the greatest], whichever way you decide.
‘But I just think the things he’s done from the start of the season really are not acceptable for Manchester United.
‘Obviously I’ve seen Roy Keane defend him. Roy wouldn’t have accepted that. Roy wouldn’t have accepted that at all. ‘So it’s a distraction that Manchester United don’t need at the minute, they’re trying to rebuild.
‘And for Cristiano, just put your head down and work and be ready to play when the manager needs you.
‘If he does that, I think he’ll be an asset. If he doesn’t, I think it will become an unwanted distraction.’