Jamie Carragher shares suspicion on Portugal boss dropping Ronaldo

World Cup 2022 briefing: Day 17

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Liverpool icon Jamie Carragher has offered an alternative explanation as to why Cristiano Ronaldo was dropped for Portugal’s last 16 World Cup tie with Switzerland on Tuesday. The former Manchester United striker was surprisingly left on the bench, having started each of the group games as his nation finished top of Group H.

Portugal boss Fernando Santos admitted that he was not happy with Ronaldo after the 37-year-old was substituted off in the 2-1 defeat to South Korea for making a gesture to the bench, and it was thought that Ronaldo was dropped for that reason having disagreed with his coach. “Have I seen the images [of Ronaldo while being substituted]? Yes, I didn’t like it, not at all,” admitted Santos on Monday.

“I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it. But from that moment onwards everything is finished regarding that issue. These matters are resolved behind closed doors. It’s resolved. Full stop on this matter and now everyone is focused on tomorrow’s match.”

However Carragher took to Twitter to react to Ronaldo being dropped, and claimed that Santos was using his striker’s antics as an excuse, and wanted to leave the five-time Ballon d’Or winner out because of his performances.

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“Would Santos the manager of Portugal drop #Ronaldo just because of his reaction to being subbed in the last game?” Carragher wrote. “A manager at club level maybe yes. With possibly 3 games to a WC final [thinking emoji] I think he has been left out because of his performances not his reaction. #WorldCup2022.”

Carragher’s Sky Sports colleague Gary Neville felt that head coaches dropping Ronaldo has become a theme, and his former team-mate needed to change his attitude towards the end of his career. “When it happened it United it was the suggestion it was because ten Hag was trying to make a move on him, establish his authority,” Neville said during ITV’s coverage of Portugal vs Switzerland.

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“This is a manager who’s got an unbelievable relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo for eight years and there are a lot of fans of Cristiano Ronaldo who aren’t willing to tell him the truth and I think he does need to listen to the truth, that it’s becoming a little bit of a scruffy end.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he came on tonight and scored the winner, but the petulance, the stomping around, the sulking, it’s got to stop because it doesn’t reflect on him well. His legacy is set, that’s protected as one of the greatest football players of all time, but in the short-term, he’s got to do a lot better.

“Is the Juventus manager wrong? Is the Manchester United manager wrong? And is the Portugal manager wrong? That’s three of them now who’ve done the same thing with him.”

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