Home » Jose Fonte says Portugal play more as a team without Cristiano Ronaldo

Jose Fonte says Portugal play more as a team without Cristiano Ronaldo

by Ayantan Chowdhury

Top scorer for Manchester United last season to mutually agreeing an exit from the club that made him a household name, things have unraveled fast for Cristiano Ronaldo.

The journey was not supposed to end this way, especially if one considers the fanfare surrounding his return to the Red Devils and his subsequent second debut.

But after missing pre-season due to personal reasons, new manager Erik ten Hag thought his fitness was not up to scratch and he sought to build his team in the manner he knows best.

A clearly discernible pattern of play emerged, one which asked for complete focus and hard-work and relentless energy and pressing, something Ronaldo is not capable of providing considering his age.

His game-time decreased dramatically and his finishing suffered as a result. And the 37-year-old, who is known for his single-minded focus on achieving new records, has been unable to accept his new reality.

CR7’s struggles at United & for Portugal

What followed was entirely avoidable but the Portuguese thought it was the best way to end things. He went on air to publicly accuse the club and manager of disrespecting him.

The 20-time English champions had no other choice but to agree a mutual termination with Ten Hag revealing that he can now focus on the future without further distractions.

If the Portugal international would have thought that the World Cup would prove to be his redemption ground, he thought wrong.

After three dismal displays in the group stages, he lost his place to Goncalo Ramos for the Round of 16 tie against Switzerland.

The Benfica hot-shot notched a hat-trick and the team played some fantastic, fluid football and the same problems have once again risen.

Reports were rife that Ronaldo threatened to leave the national camp and that he refused to train with the substitutes, instead focussing on gym work along with the remaining starters.

National teammate Jose Fonte, who was unlucky to miss out on the chance to play in the World Cup, believes Ronaldo’s presence hampers the team as the players invariably end up trying to find him at every given opportunity.

“Just his presence on the field makes the players of the national team unconsciously and automatically have to play for him, always give him the ball.

“For being who he is, for what he has done and what he is still capable of doing,” the 2016 Euro champion said on the BBC daily podcast (via A Bola).

The 38-year-old Lille defender felt the biggest thing going for his nation this World Cup is the fact that they have a great squad with both defensive and offensive players in top form.

Fonte says Ramos deserves to start

And without that added pressure of passing to the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, the team showed fluidity and a desire to work for each other.

“When he is not there, Portugal plays more as a team and that was seen. They played fluidly, without a single focal point, everyone contributed and it was beautiful to see.

“We had success with Cristiano Ronaldo over these years, he was very influential. Gonçalo Ramos offers a different game proposal and had a perfect night, we were all happy for him. I hope it stays that way.”

The former Southampton star also opined that Ramos will definitely keep his place for the quarterfinal tie against Morocco, despite Ronaldo’s wishes to start.

“How, if the boy scored three goals? You cannot teach a legend like Ronaldo. Ronaldo will always be Ronaldo and for Portugal it is even very positive to have a player like him come off the bench, it will be one more problem to cause the opponents.”

But the former Real Madrid player does not take too kindly to be called a substitute. It remains to be seen how this latest saga featuring one of the all-time greats unfolds.

Latest Top Stories...