Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has launched a passionate defence of his former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo following criticism over his lack of pressing
The 36-year-old has undoubtedly made an impact for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ’s side, scoring a dramatic last-gasp winner against Villarreal and the final goal in the comeback win against Atalanta.
While his goal contributions have not been lacking, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Ronaldo this season, with United’s collective struggles sparking individual criticism of the Portuguese star.
The recent 4-2 defeat by Leicester and 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool saw United’s work off the ball analysed and many pundits conclude that Ronaldo’s lack of pressing was hampering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Ronaldo does the vast majority of his work when his team has the ball and ex-United defender Ferdinand believes it is disrespectful to pick out his former team-mate for not pressing.
“I’ve heard some talk and the only way I can explain it, is it’s blasphemy, when I heard some people talking about Ronaldo’s the reason why Man United aren’t going to be a success,” he said on his Vibe with FIVE YouTube channel .
“Ronaldo turning up at Man United, and yeah it’s great, but he’s going to be the reason why they don’t do anything.
“Listen, I’ve been seeing too much of it, don’t talk like that. Please, it’s a disgrace. Absolute disrespect.
“A player that’s done what he’s done in the game, a superstar of any generation, he’ll be one of the best players in any generation you can think about, and even again he just told people at the weekend what he’s about here… pressure’s on [and] he scores.
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“To think that because he doesn’t press, because he doesn’t run as much as other people… that’s not what he’s there for.
“You play to people’s strengths sometimes, you can do that when you’ve got a superstar in your team sometimes for certain clubs.”
Solskjaer changed the formation from his typical 4-2-3-1 to a 5-3-2 against Tottenham on Saturday and was rewarded with a 3-0 win.
Ronaldo opened the scoring with a stunning volley before setting up his strike partner, Edinson Cavani, to make it double their lead before Marcus Rashford completed the scoring.
The game was another example of Ronaldo’s contributions in front of goal this season and led Ferdinand to draw parallels between him and some of the game’s top centre-forwards to emphasise his point.
“When you look at [Romelu] Lukaku, [Robert] Lewandowski, Karim Benzema… are they players, some of the best goalscorers of this generation,” he continued.
“Are they players that you look at and go ‘he doesn’t half work hard, he doesn’t half press the opposition. Harry Kane, he’s a great presser of the opposition isn’t he…’
“But we’re all talking about them like they’re great players. No one is questioning their work rate, their pressing ability.
“Let’s have it right, it’s got to be the same for someone like Ronaldo. It’s the bigger picture at United, the structure of the team, it was other things.”