Roy KeaneJamie Carragher and he were at their best when he clashed over Cristiano Ronaldo.
After Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Sunday saw the pair of pundits engage in a fierce battle of words.
United’s caretaker manager Michael Carrick decided to bench Ronaldo, despite him scoring against Villarreal in midweek. He instead chose to start Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sáncho up front as strikers.
Carrick believed in Sancho, but Rashford was struggling to enter the game. Ronaldo was on the pitch with United winning 1-0. Jorginho’s penalty earned the home side a share of the spoils.
Keane maintained that Ronaldo should start, but ex-Liverpool defender, Carragher, disagreed and there was much more discussion about his signing.
Take part in the discussion Is Ronaldo making Man Utd worse? We’d love to hear your opinions.
Keane began on Sky Sports: “Ronaldo’s not one to come off the bench. Ronaldo has not come back to sit on the bench.
“He knew that the ref would blow the whistle on his overall play. Carrick is trying his best to give him the high-five.
“[There’s] nothing wrong with a player being upset but Ronaldo has not come back to sit on the bench.
“He’s a world class player, the idea Ronaldo will close people down he’s not. Sometimes you just have to live with the superstar.
“I played with players who don’t do their bit you’d hope, the Cantonas of the world but you forgive him because they will score and win the matches. He could’ve played easily.”
CarragherHe had his own opinion and countered “I think going away to big games I can understand why Carrick didn’t start him. He’s 36.
“Ronaldo’s not the player he was – he’s still obviously delivering for Manchester United in terms of goals – but I don’t think it should be a big story if he doesn’t start every game or, at times, comes off.”
Keane replied: “Jamie, it’s not always the same game, but this game is important for Man United today. Some of the Champions League group games I didn’t like, however, I can forgive them.
“But Ronaldo, if you bumped into him in the car park, you see a guy who’s won everything in the game, who’s come back to United to try and lift the club – of course he wants to play in these games, of course he wants to play.”
Then, things got a lot more interesting.
Carragher asked: “That’s every player, Roy, doesn’t every player wanna play every game?
Keane noted: “Jamie points out that they are not all world class. Not everyone’s played 800 games in their career.
“If you’re watching Man United today and Man United are poor, you’re still looking and thinking you still think if Ronaldo is on the pitch, whatever your feelings are, if the ball falls to anybody in world football – even now at 36 – it’s Ronaldo.
“It’s not as if he’s come back to the club and he’s not scored, and you go ‘he can’t get up to speed, he looks off it, he’s as if he’s not interested,’ – he looks on it, he looks interested.
“But then this idea that he’s getting the blame for the high press.”
Carragher interjected: “But he doesn’t press, does he?”
This immediately attracted the ire Keane,Who did it back? “He’s not pressed for 5 or 6 years. I said when he came back: ‘He’s not going to fix United’s problems’.
“But you don’t bring Ronaldo back to Man United to sit on the bench.
“Of course he’s not gonna start every game, but it’s Chelsea away, there’s gonna be counter attacks, you might get one or two balls into the box.”
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (also in Sky Sports studio), tried to calm things down. Keane continued, asking: “Do you think Rashford pressed today? Rashford did nothing today.”
CarragherAfter that, I tried to change my mind by writing: “Why did Manchester United sign Ronaldo in the summer? They signed him because they were terrified of him going to Man City.
“It was not in the plan to sign him.”
Keane swiftly cut in: “Jamie, he was always going play. They signed him not to go with us to City.”
Just as quickly, Carragher said: “Is it okay for a Manchester United manager to place Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench
“They’ve come here and the guy who played has scored the goals.”
KeaneThen lament: “Stats have obviously taken over the world – his stats since coming back to Man United are good.”
The pace of things was faster. Carragher responded: “Goalscoring-wise, yeah, definitely!”
KeaneFired back: “Alright yeah, what’s the game about? Scoring goals! You talk about [Mohamed] Salah, the game’s about goals, Jamie! Ian Rush – what did he do? He scored goals.”
Carragher,Questioned: “Did he press as well?”
Keane responded.”Yeah but he didn’t score as many as Ronaldo!”
Carragher You can then reply by saying: “I’m not criticising Ronaldo as a player. He’s a phenomenon in terms of goals.
“However, I did mention this to Lionel Messi in midweek – Paris Saint-Germain signed Messi, United signed Ronaldo. These are two of the most important players of all-time.
“Are Man United closer to the title right now than they were last season? No.
“Is PSG closer towards the Champions League with Messi as the team? No.
“We speak about goalscorers, or whatever position you are, it’s a team game.”
Things seemed to be calmed… but then host David Jones asked the pundits if the signing had been a mistake. It all started much faster and with more aggression.
Your opinion matters! How did Man Utd perform at Chelsea? Please rate these players.
Keane: “Ronaldo was never going to get United back to winning titles.”
Carragher: “What was the point in signing him then?! He’s 37!”
Keane: “Did your FA Cup win?””
Carragher: “Yes, I did.
Keane: “Yeah so go back to winning the FA Cup. They got through to the next round of the Champions League, how much you think that’s worth to the club. The Glazers and share prices- that’s what he’s come back for!”
Carragher: “If you finish 2nd and you then sign Ronaldo at 36, you’re not going to win the League in four years. If you sign someone at 36 it’s to win right now.
“It’s a win-win situation if Varane, a four time champion league winner and World Cup medalist, is signed. Is Varane any closer to winning this league?”
Keane: “No. He’s not come back to win the league.”
Carragher: “So what’s he come back for?! What’s he here for then?”
Keane: “Mourinho won the league, but not the trophies. Did you feel elated when you won the FA Cup? United are currently a cup-team.”
Carragher: “You said Ronaldo hasn’t come to win the League, what is he here for?!”
Carragher: “Is this where Man United went?”
Carragher: “You’re happy with cups?
Keane: “I’m not but thats where they are as a club. Look at the team look at the league, look at the last two or three years they won’t win the league for the two or three years, I’ll tell you that.”
Carragher: “Why sign Ronaldo at 36 if they’re not going to win for the next two or three years? Start getting Greenwood on the pitch, start getting Sancho on the pitch.”
Keane: “They were never going to win the league with Ronaldo.”
Carragher: “So what was the point?”
Keane: “I’ll say it one more time. To win some trophies, FA Cups, that’s where they are.”
Then it was over.