Manchester United talisman Ronaldo must do better to keep his emotions in check, Old Trafford boss Ragnick said, after the Portuguese superstar appeared visibly frustrated after getting hooked off during his side’s 3-1 victory at Brentford this week.
Ragnick, who is in temporary charge of the club following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last November, said that he understands Ronaldo’s competitive drive is such that being substituted is often a less-than-ideal scenario for him but he must do better when it comes to his pitch-side histrionics.
Ronaldo was caught by cameras throwing his training jersey to the turf after he was withdrawn from the game with around 20 minutes to go – but Ragnick says that he didn’t perceive the gesture as a sign of disrespect.
“I didn’t at all see or interpret that he was challenging me,” the German said ahead his side’s Saturday fixture with West Ham. “He just showed, maybe too emotionally, that he was not happy to be replaced.
“I don’t blame him for that but obviously any manager, I think, would wish it shouldn’t be too emotional and also in front of the TV cameras.
“I don’t think that this will be for the benefit of anyone – not to his benefit, not to the benefit of the team-mates – but in the end it’s an emotional game and players are emotional and I didn’t take it personally at all.”
Ragnick’s decision to withdraw Ronaldo while his side wear leading the game was perhaps influenced by his side’s inability to retain a two-goal advantage in their previous match with Aston Villa, and after Ronaldo has been criticized in some sections of the media for the 36-year-old’s inability to press the opposition.
Marcus Rashford, who replaced Ronaldo in the Manchester United attack, scored six minutes after his introduction to seal the victory and gain a crucial three points for Ragnick’s team as they attempt to engineer a drive at a top four finish in the Premier League.
“The job of a football manager is to help teams win games and, for me, it was clear after the experience at Villa that this time we had to do things better,” Ragnick added.
“The only question was who we take off. Cristiano is a prolific goalscorer and a player who always wants to play and score goals. He was asking, ‘Why me and not one of the younger players?’
“The answer came five minutes later when one of the younger players scored. Maybe Cristiano could also have scored that goal but football is not always ‘maybe’.
“A player like Cristiano doesn’t like to be substituted, that is pretty normal. His reaction was emotional but for me not a problem at all. I have managed other [star] players – maybe with not quite as big a name as Cristiano. I know how these players react to being substituted.
“But then again it is about the team and getting points. We are in a position [seventh in the Premier League] where every single game is of maximum importance. The team is more important than [anyone], no matter who it is.”
Ronaldo, though, may have to become a bit more accustomed to sitting on the sidelines amid reports on Saturday that he is expected to miss the West Ham game after picking up a slight neck injury.