THE IRONY might have passed a frustrated Fernando Santos.
The Portugal manager has finally set the record for his alleged “broke” with Cristiano Ronaldo after dropping it in Tuesday’s 6-1 round of 16 win over Switzerland.
Contrary to other reports, Ronaldo did NOT threaten to leave the World Cup camp in protest, but when told he was on the bench he asked: “Do you really think that’s a good idea?”
Santos, 68, concluded by urging that we should stop asking negative questions about football’s most selfish, social media-obsessed and media-hungry superstar and leave him alone.
He said this with a serious expression and told the room that he was deadly serious. Ironic considering how unemployed Ronaldo was already trying to make everything about him before this World Cup.
The interview with Piers Morgan, the accusatory Instagram posts, the prank on the pitch for being substituted during the 2-1 loss to South Korea.
Who knows what will happen when the 37-year-old starts the second straight game in Qatar on the bench for tomorrow’s quarter-final clash against Morocco, Santos has hinted.
Still, most of his press conference was focused on clearing Ronaldo’s name.
When asked what happened before Switzerland, Santos explained: “Yes, we had a conversation. It would have been very bad if we hadn’t had it. It had to happen.
“It was after lunch on game day. I hadn’t had a conversation with him before.
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“I invited him to my office. I explained to him why he wouldn’t play, why he wouldn’t start, so he wouldn’t be surprised.
“I told him you will be important but with our strategy it would be better not to be on the field.
“We expected the game to be difficult and I would save him for the second half. Cristiano wasn’t very happy about it for obvious reasons.
“He said to me, ‘Do you really think that’s a good idea?’
“I explained my point of view to him and of course he agreed. He never told me he wanted to leave our national team.
“It’s high time we ended this conversation and quit politics. He was the one who warmed up with all the players even though he knew he wasn’t going to start. He celebrated every goal.
“And in the end he was the one who invited his colleagues to say thank you to the fans. It is high time to leave Ronaldo alone with what he has done for Portuguese football.
“I don’t think there is anyone in Portugal who doesn’t want Portugal to win but doesn’t highlight the positive aspects of Ronaldo and pick out the negative ones? Why? It’s not important.”
Ronaldo came off the bench in the 74 against the Swissth minute, but it was the first time since 2008 that he had not competed in an international major tournament.
His partner Georgina Rodriguez took aim at Santos on Instagram but the manager’s decision paid off as Ronaldo’s substitute Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick.
Ronaldo took to social media to dismiss rumors of a falling out, suggesting they are a group “too united to be broken by external forces”.
Asked if the same team will be selected for the Moroccans, Santos said: “Any player isn’t happy if he doesn’t play. Managers have to deal with this.
“When a team wins and doesn’t switch teams, we’ve seen that, but that’s not always the case.
“Do you think this game against Morocco will be the same against Switzerland? We will see. We need to find things to overcome this.
“We’re going to face a team with very passionate fans. They play for their mothers and grandmothers, so we have to play for our grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers.”
Lille and Portuguese defender Jose Fonte recently claimed Portugal play more as a team when Ronaldo is not on the pitch. Striker Joao Felix adds: “I don’t feel it.
“He has his reason for saying that and I respect him, but things happen on the pitch whether Cristiano is playing or not. We played differently for different reasons.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6879151/cristiano-ronaldo-portugal-world-cup-axe-fernando-santos/ “Do you really think it’s a good idea?” – In Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Portugal’s World Cup team