On the eve of their showdown with bitter rivals Liverpool, Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has fired back at those that question his defensive work rate while claiming he “will still close mouths and win things”.
In an interview with Sky Sports, ahead of the latest installment of what is seen by many as English football’s greatest rivalry, the Portuguese reflected on life thus far during a second spell at Old Trafford after joining from Juventus in the summer.
Despite netting six goals in eight appearances, including a last-gasp winner against Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday, the five-time Ballon d’Or king has faced questions from some over defensive commitment, with three defeats already tasted in the Premier League and on the continent.
According to Ronaldo, however, he is fully aware of “when the team needs my help defensively”, but stressed that his “role in the club is to win, help the team to win and to score goals.”
“[The defensive side] is part of my job,” he conceded, before digging into those that only want to focus on the negatives to whom he pays little mind.
“The people who don’t want to see that is because they don’t like me but to be honest I’m 36, I win everything so am I going to be worried about the people who say bad things about me?
“I sleep good at night. I go to my bed with my conscience very good. Keep going with that because I will still close mouths and win things,” he vowed.
“Criticism is always part of the business,” Ronaldo pointed out. “I’m not worried about that.”
“And I see it as a good thing, to be honest. If they worry about me or they speak about me, it’s because they know my potential and value in football still. So it’s good.
“I’ll give you an example: if you’re in a school and you’re the best student, you ask the worst student if he likes the best, they’ll say they don’t like him.
🗣 “I sleep good in the night every day, I go to my bed with my conscience very good.”Cristiano Ronaldo says any criticism about his game has no affect on his confidence pic.twitter.com/2MSghGLHQn
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 23, 2021
“I think the main word is that I’m still happy and enjoying football,” he claimed.
“It doesn’t matter how many things I won in my career. I win everything but I’m still motivated. I’m in a new chapter of my life, even with my age, and this is why I am here – to try to win and I think Manchester needs to be at this level of winning and thinking to win big things so I’m here to help.”
After a 1-1 draw with Everton he didn’t start, which Sir Alex Ferguson was caught on camera criticizing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to UFC great Khabib Nurmagomedov over, Ronaldo’s detractors again dug into him for storming down the tunnel.
Addressing this, he said that he simply doesn’t “like to lose”.
“[It was a] draw?” he asked. “[A] draw – but for me, to draw against Everton – who have my whole respect – at home is like a loss. Maybe I’m thinking wrong, but this is the way I motivate myself and win stuff during my career and I play for the most important clubs in the world.
“So, as I said, criticism will always exist here,” Ronaldo reiterated.
“I’m not hiding from that and, to be honest, I really don’t care because I know football is like that. My reactions are what I feel at that moment. Most of the time when I talk it’s very, very positive but sometimes, depending on the game, maybe you say things that you don’t agree [with] or whatever, but it’s me.
“Everyone knows me. I’ve always been like that; I’m not going to change now with my age. I will always give 100 per cent for this club and my reactions [are] part of what I am. I don’t want to hurt anybody. I know there will be eyes on me because of what I am, what I achieve, what I win.
“They don’t want to give me credit for the good things; they’re always going to find the bad things but for me it’s not a problem. Life’s a constant lesson and I still learn with my mistakes, trying to improve the next game.”
🗣 “I see it as a good thing, if they worry about me it’s because they know my potential.”Cristiano Ronaldo responds to the criticism that he has received regarding his work rate at Manchester United pic.twitter.com/tO1A7TOu6N
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 23, 2021
In typical Ronaldo fashion, the five-time Champions League winner also revealed that rather than sing a song at his second Manchester United induction, he chose to make a rousing speech instead.
“I said what I felt in that moment: that I’m here to win things,” Ronald stressed.
“Manchester United is a sign [of] winning things and I’m not here for holidays. I said to them I see huge potential in this team; very young players, players with potential, and I’m here to win and to help the team to build new stuff.
“I didn’t sing because I told them that I sang a few years ago! But it was good. The boys, they understand me, it was a good speech and I was happy that night,” he concluded on this.
Tomorrow afternoon, Ronaldo will look to deny second-place Liverpool the chance to pull within a point of leaders Chelsea, while United can improve on their seventh-place standing as they currently lie eight points off the pace.