Cristiano Ronaldo has once again received public backing from former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.
Ronaldo has endured a woeful start to the season and appears to be struggling to get himself into goalscoring positions, suggesting the 37-year-old may never recapture his form.
He was again ineffective during United’s clash with Aston Villa on Sunday and has only manage one Premier League goal this season, despite playing 520 minutes.
While it seems apparent that the Red Devils are better without this version of Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand has weighed in with an odd excuse for his performances.
The retired defender has consistently supported his former teammate while working as a pundit on both TV and his own YouTube channel, Vibe with Five.
Speaking on the latter (quotes via The Mirror), Ferdinand remarkably claimed that Ronaldo is struggling for fitness.
“He is probably fighting for fitness right now as well, if he goes to a World Cup and plays, he might come back in better condition than when he left. You don’t know. How many games do you think it takes you to get fit?”
The suggestion that United’s struggling striker will emerge from a taxing tournament in peak physical condition certainly seems a fanciful one.
And given Ferdinand’s unwavering defence of Ronaldo, it is easy to imagine him using the World Cup as an excuse for further poor form from the forward on the other side of the tournament.
However, the Englishman points the Ronaldo’s lack of a preseason as the reason behind his current woes.
“I never felt fit until about six games into the season. I was always going into games preseason always worrying about my fitness and being fit enough to get through 90 minutes.
“If you go through history and look at players who have missed preseason, they very rarely hit the heights you are used to seeing,” he added.
It is worth noting that Ronaldo is now 10 league appearances into the season, with an additional 6 starts in the Europa League – he is well past six games at this point.
And that is to forget the fact that Ronaldo only missed preseason because he refused to travel with his United teammates, preferring instead to shop around Europe for a transfer.
With the excuses running out for the legendary goalscorer, it would be no surprise to see him dropped for the Red Devils’ final Premier League match before the World Cup, against Fulham.
For Ferdinand, that would be “a big shout,” although when asked if Ronaldo may have played his last game for United, he said only that “time will tell.”
Of course, Erik ten Hag will need some of his attackers to make a return to fitness in order to give him that option, with Jadon Sancho, Antony, and Anthony Martial all missing games recently due to illness and injury.
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