Ronaldo banging a phone out of a child’s hand at Goodison Park provided a visual metaphor for his and Manchester United’s seasons.
Sometimes the visual metaphor is just too obvious to ignore. Cristiano Ronaldo’s reaction to being filmed as he left the Goodison Park pitch following Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat at Everton painted a picture of frustration and discontent that the club’s supporters have known for a very long time, while by creating another medium. scramble that sums up how United have become something of a soap opera.
Ronaldo was probably right to be frustrated. United had a sluggish performance against Everton, a side whose relegation had surprisingly been deemed confirmed following defeat in their previous game at Burnley. But that view seemed to overlook the fact that United themselves have slipped back into funk in recent weeks, just when they should have been making that last ditch push for a Champions League place.
The game may not have been a particularly uplifting spectacle, but Everton had enough to take their share of luck when he came on as a huge deflection off Harry Maguire, a player who s is done in the wrong place at the wrong time something of an art form. Everton worked hard to allay their own fears of ending a 68-year run in the top flight with relegation they in many ways could not afford.
The headline-grabbing incident was tailor-made for a tabloid feeding frenzy. As he was leaving the pitch, Ronaldo allegedly knocked the phone out of the hand of a 14-year-old boy who recorded him as he headed down the tunnel, causing pain inside his thumb, as well as visible bruising. on his hand and smashing his phone. Ronaldo was quick to apologize via Instagram in which he said: “I would like to apologize for my outburst and if possible I would like to invite this supporter to watch a game at Old Trafford as a sign of fair- play and sportsmanship.’
Leaving aside if an Everton supporter would want to to accept an invitation to Old Trafford, the story snowballed from there, first with the news that the the police were investigating a complaint on his behavior, then with frank criticism from the mother of the boy concerned and the revelation that the boy has autism and suffers from dyspraxia, so has difficulty with certain fine motor skills, such as holding a pen or closing buttons and zippers. Of course, Ronaldo could have had no way of knowing that in the heat of the moment, but it was clearly not a strong look for a player who guards his personal ‘brand’ very closely.
It goes without saying that it was a stupid thing for Ronaldo to do, although that frustration may be understandable. Indeed, given how much time gamers spend being scanned under an electron microscope or having the phone shoved in their face, it’s somewhat surprising that this sort of reaction doesn’t happen much more often, and in the end of a match, tensions and frustrations will often be extremely high. This isn’t an alleviation of what happened, but it does at least offer an explanation.
It’s also not the first time that a low point has come with a resounding visual metaphor for Manchester United. When they were relegated at the end of the 1973/74 season, their last home game against Manchester City was punctuated by Denis Law hound City a goal against the team he had served with distinction for 11 years, refusing to celebrate and being substituted shortly after. It’s a myth that goal relegated Manchester United – results elsewhere have rendered it irrelevant – but the moment came to symbolize the club’s decline in the years following their 1968 European Cup victory. in a way that has stood the test of time for almost half a century.
No one would suggest United are in the state they were in that day, but the petulant, extremely well-paid player with a checkered reputation acting that way at the end of a loss to a struggling side against relegation offers a glimpse of the engulfing misfortune that has seemed to envelop Old Trafford in recent years.
Signing Ronaldo at the end of the summer 2021 transfer window was meant to give United fans a break from those clouds and use his experience to propel the team to sunnier plateaus. Using Instagram to apologize for this incident – and yes, there are historical allegations that many believe he should also apologize for – is probably not the type of social media interaction that the club would have hoped for what now looks more and more like a failed comeback.
Seven months after his return, Old Trafford doesn’t seem like a happier place for him. With a string of tricky fixtures to close out their season, United are now slipping down a Champions League spot for next season, and at this stage Europa League qualification looks far from guaranteed either. Elsewhere, the fan sharing program promised to supporters following the European Super League protests is looking more and more like fine words, spoken to assuage mounting criticism at a time when subscription renewals were due.
Perhaps the arrival of a new manager this summer will finally remove some of those cobwebs, but it’s long been felt that the problems Manchester United face start at the very top of their hierarchy, and that reshuffling managers and signing expensive trinkets like Ronaldo has been just a mask for years of walking on water that can only truly be ended by the departure of those who run the club as business rather than football organization for nearly two decades. Ronaldo’s reaction to the loss to Everton was certainly not excusable, but it seemed to sum up how many people have felt about Manchester United for quite a long time.