Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed that he was “close” to a move to Manchester City last summer, but he chose Manchester United after the intervention of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ronaldo also said other clubs were interested in signing him from Juventus in 2021, but the 37-year-old followed “his heart” and rejoined United, despite them not initially being in the running for him.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also hit out at young players for “not caring” or following his advice and claiming it was “too easy” for them.
But he praised United team-mates Diego Dalot, Lisandro Martinez and Casimer for their professionalism.
In clips previously aired this week, Ronaldo was also critical of former caretaker manager Ralph Rangnick and Man United for their lack of investment in the 13 years since his departure.
Read the best parts of the first part of the interview below.
“Moving to the city was close, but Sir Alex changed everything”
“Well, honestly, it is [moving to City] was close. They talked a lot and Guardiola said two weeks ago that they tried very hard to have me,” Ronaldo said. “But, as you know, my history is at Manchester United. Your heart, you feel like before, and that has made a difference. And of course, also Sir Alex Ferguson. It was a conscious decision because at that moment the heart speaks.
“I think [speaking with Ferguson] was the key. I wouldn’t say Manchester City wasn’t close. But I think I am [make] conscious decision. I have no regrets at any point.
“And as you mentioned before, Sir Alex Ferguson was the key. I spoke to him… He told me ‘it’s impossible for you to come to Manchester City’. And I said ‘OK boss’.
“So, I made decisions and I repeat: I was aware that it was a good decision.
“It was a good moment, nobody expected it. Things changed in 72 hours. You plan or they said, not only Man City, but also other clubs. Manchester United were not part of those teams, but they surprised everyone, even me.”
‘United stopped the clock – I was surprised’
However, Ronaldo’s view of United quickly changed, attacking the club for a lack of investment in infrastructure which “surprised” him.
Man Utd calm about Ronaldo interview
Manchester United will not make a decision on Cristiano Ronaldo’s future until they have seen the full interview with Piers Morgan and remain calm about the situation.
Sky Sports News understands that Man United do not buy into some of Ronaldo’s criticisms which he has made in the clips that have been broadcast so far.
Ronaldo has criticized the club for a lack of investment in the 13 years since he left Old Trafford, but sources insisted United have invested in their facilities – particularly the training ground, restaurant and swimming pool.
Ronaldo has also been critical of Erik ten Hag, but again sources insist Ronaldo was treated with respect by the club and manager – in press conferences, Erik ten Hag always claimed Ronaldo was given time off to deal with family matters .
“When I signed for Manchester United… I thought everything would be different, you know, the technology, the infrastructure and everything. But I was surprised, in a bad way, let’s say that way, because I saw that everything was the same.
“They stopped on the clock, in my opinion, which surprised me.
“The progress at United has been zero, in my opinion. Compared to Real Madrid and even Juventus, they are following the rest of the world. So the technology, especially in terms of training, nutrition and proper nutrition and recovery conditions better than before – surprising me.
“Manchester right now, compared to that club, I think they’re behind in my opinion, which is something that surprised me. A club of this size should be top of the tree in my opinion, and they’re not, unfortunately. They’re not on But I hope that in the coming years he will be able to reach the highest level.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but since Sir Alex Ferguson left I haven’t seen any evolution in the club, progress has been zero.”
‘I never saw Rangnick as a boss’
Ronaldo was also selective about former United manager Ralf Rangnick, who was brought in as interim manager following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 12 months ago.
The 37-year-old admitted he had never heard of the German manager before and felt he was never “the boss” at United.
Ronaldo also attacked United’s board for hiring Rangnick in the first place – and that members of the hierarchy should be replaced.
“Of course, we have to get in touch [him that] because he took the job regardless,” Ronaldo said. “I call all the coaches I’ve had in my career bosses, because if they take the job, we have to call them that.
“But in the end, deep down, I never saw him as a boss because I saw some points [where] I never agreed [with him].
Asked if he thought Rangnick and his coaching staff knew what they were doing, he added: “No, they do [did not]. They knew the club very well. But they [did not] know the main dimension of the club from the inside, the history of the club. Which, as far as I’m concerned, surprised me even more.
“When you sack Ole Solskjaer, you should bring in a top manager, not a sporting director.
“Of course [it was ridiculous], you have to be honest. If you’re not even a coach, how are you going to be the boss of Manchester United? They didn’t follow the right way to follow Liverpool or Manchester City.
“They are a few steps behind. They should improve and change that staff or directors, presidents. I don’t know who is the problem.”
“Solskjaer did a good job, you need more time”
Speaking about Solskjaer, Ronaldo spoke positively of the former United boss and said the Norwegian manager had done a “good job” at Old Trafford before Rangnick arrived.
“I love Solskjær,” Ronaldo said. “I think he was a top person, because what I keep in my heart is the heart of all people. And Ole is a top person for me.
“It’s hard, it’s hard to guess [the role] after Sir Alex Ferguson, but I think he certainly did a good job.
“You need a lot more time. But I never doubt it [he is] he will be a good coach in the future. But it was a good experience. I was so glad to work with him even for a short time.”
‘I’m an example… young players are no longer the same’
Ronaldo also lashed out at the younger players of this generation of footballers, saying that they are not the same as when he arrived.
The 37-year-old also described himself as an “example” for young players to follow and credited the former United players he grew up with as the reason he is so successful.
“The new generation and new technologies distract them. But they are not the same [in the way] that they listen, but that’s why we have two ears, because you listen from one side, and they leave from the other side.
“So it doesn’t surprise me. But in the same way, it’s a little bit [of a] shame because if they have the best examples in front of their eyes, and if they don’t, at least something to copy [they] did.
“It’s a bit strange for me, because I remember when I was 18, 19, 20 years old I always watched the best players: [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy, [Rio] Ferdinand, Roy Keane and [Ryan] Giggs – that’s why I have the success I have and longevity. Because I take care of my body, my mentality, my head, because I see these guys and learn from them.
“I’m not the guy who likes to give advice, I prefer to be an example. Because I’m an example. I’m there every morning and I do the same things. I’m probably the first one in and the last one out. I think the details speak for themselves. As I already told you , they listen to one thing and in two minutes they already forget and do what they think is better. That’s why I say, I like to be an example, and some follow me – but not too much.
Asked if they were interested in taking his advice, Ronaldo replied: “They don’t care – some yes, but most don’t. But for me it’s not surprising because they won’t have longevity in their careers. It’s impossible. In my generation, you see a lot of players come to 36, 37, 38 at a high level and I think that in this generation you will count on the fingers of one hand how many will reach that level.
Dalot is good, but young players don’t care
Ronaldo singled out Manchester United right-back Diogo Dalot as a good example of a young player – but said it was “difficult” to find anyone other than himself, Lisandro Martinez and 30-year-old Casemiro.
“They live in a different era,” Ronaldo said of the young players. “My child is 12 years old, the mentality is not the same. Anger [is the difference], things are easier for them. They don’t suffer. And they don’t care. I don’t just mean a few at Manchester United, I mean all the teams.
“I can only say what I see with my own eyes. In Manchester United, I can mention Dalot. An example is he is young and very professional. I have no doubt that he will have longevity in football. He is young, smart, intelligent. We have several other young people, but it is difficult is. Martinez, Casemiro is in his 30s – but I would say Dalot.”
Piers Morgan uncensored: 90 minutes with Ronaldo is on TalkTV tonight and Thursday at 8 p.m.