Cristiano Ronaldo missed a farewell dinner for outgoing Manchester United staff last week. But while Ralf Rangnick believed this decision indicated a “broken team spirit” within the camp, it actually speaks volumes about the Portugal international. Celebrating after a season like this just isn’t in his DNA.
Ronaldo returned to Manchester United from Juventus in the summer transfer window, 12 years after quitting to join Real Madrid in Spain.
And the Portugal international didn’t disappoint, scoring 24 goals in all competitions – more than any other player at the club.
Ronaldo has also been a positive figure behind the scenes, even when there was talk of his return, causing division and uncertainty within the squad.
According to a recent report from The Athletic, the Portugal international was absent when the players attended a meal at Wings in Manchester last week.
This event was held to say goodbye to outgoing staff, with eight or nine other high-profile stars missing.
But while some might believe Ronaldo is sulking, it speaks volumes about his competitive mentality.
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In his eyes there is nothing to celebrate. This was United’s worst season of the Premier League era, who have had some work to do given their plight in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
And Ronaldo, given his highly competitive mindset, is not one to just smile and put on a facade.
The Portuguese international will be injured privately. He didn’t come back to play in the Europa League but after the club finished sixth that’s the reality.
Ronaldo has won a trophy every season since the 2009/2010 season.
He picked up 15 during his time in Spain and took Madrid to four Champions League crowns in nine years.
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And while his time at Juventus didn’t live up to expectations overall, he was nonetheless a hit at the Allianz Stadium.
He won the Serie A title twice in as many years, making his first move to Turin in the 2019 summer transfer window.
And while his final year in Italy didn’t live up to the bill, he was still able to win the Coppa Italia before pursuing a new challenge elsewhere.
Ronaldo admitted earlier in the season that United’s plight was difficult to stomach. In an interview with Sky Sports, he said: “I don’t want to be here to be sixth or seventh or fifth.
“I’m here to try to win, to compete.
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“I think in order to build good things, sometimes you have to destroy some things.”
While Ronaldo’s hunger for success may have deterred him from dining at Wings, his personal circumstances should also be mentioned.
The 37-year-old was recently struck by tragedy when his newborn son sadly passed away shortly after birth.
Ronaldo missed just one game after that, the 4-0 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield.
But he may very well have opted to skip eating out in Manchester to spend more time with loved ones, including his newborn daughter.
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After all, he is also a family man. As a father of five, he balances fatherhood while also being the greatest soccer player in the world.
Ronaldo is now set to stay at United. His decision not to visit the food in Manchester has nothing to do with wanting to go there.
And Erik ten Hag, his new manager, recently gave the veteran a chance to speak.
“Of course,” he said when asked if Ronaldo would play a key role in his forthcoming project at Old Trafford.
What he will bring, he added: “Ronaldo? Goals!”