Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher exploded into a screaming match as they debated Cristiano Ronaldo’s role after the Manchester United star started on the bench against Chelsea.
United made the surprise decision to leave their world superstar player on the bench as they held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Ronaldo came on as a 64th minute substitution, but showed frustration after talking his way into the referee’s book for a yellow card and heading straight down the tunnel as soon as the final whistle went.
Cristiano Ronaldo was left on the bench for Manchester United’s clash with Chelsea
Ronaldo showed visible signs of frustration when he came on and quickly left down the tunnel after the final whistle
Following the match, Roy Keane questioned why Ronaldo was left on the bench, though fellow pundit Jamie Carragher said it shouldn’t be a ‘big story’.
Carragher said on Sky Sports after the game: ‘Ronaldo’s not the player he was, he still obviously delivering in terms of goals. But it shouldn’t be this big story Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t start every game or at times comes off.
In response, Keane said: ‘Not every game Jamie but this is Chelsea, this is a big game for Manchester United. I forgive in Champions League group games when you think you’re gonna get through I get that.
‘But Ronaldo, if you bumped into him in the car park. You see a guy who’s won everything in the game, he’s come back to lift the club of course he wants to play in these games.’
Roy Keane questioned why Ronaldo had been left on the bench in a game as big as Chelsea
It was at this point both pundits started talking over each other as Carragher said ‘that’s the case for every player’.
Keane responded: ‘They’re not all world class, he’s played 800 games in his career. If you’re watching Manchester United today and they’re poor you’re still thinking if the ball falls to anybody in world football, even at 36 it’s Ronaldo.
‘It’s not like he’s come back to the club and he’s not back to speed and looks off, he looks on it, he looks interested. This idea that he’s been blamed for the high pressing.
‘He’s not pressed for four to six years. Ronaldo’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 going to start every game but this is Chelsea away where you might get a counter attack where you might get one or two balls into the box.’
Carragher then added: ‘Why did Man United sign Cristiano Ronaldo? They signed him to stop him going to Man City. There was no plan to sign Cristiano Ronaldo.’
Keane hit back: ‘He was always going to play, he wasn’t coming back to Man United to stop him going to Man City but sit on the bench.
Carragher said that Ronaldo’s omission from the team at 36 shouldn’t be ‘big news’
‘I didn’t say that, Carragher responded. ‘I’m saying is a Manchester United manager not allowed to put him on the bench?
‘Of course he is,’ Keane said. He then added: ‘His stats since he come back to Man United are good. What’s the game about goals’
Carragher then asked Keane: ‘Are Man United closer to winning the league?’ before Keane responded: ‘Goals are what the game is about, Ian Rush what did he do? Score goals.’
Keane then said that while the Liverpool legend ‘pressed’, he didn’t ‘score as many goals’ as Ronaldo.
Carragher made comparisons to Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s situations, stating: ‘I’m not criticising Ronaldo as player. He’s a phenomenon. I said it mid-week with Messi.
‘PSG have signed Messi, United have signed Ronaldo. Two of the greatest players of all time.
‘Are United closer to the league title than they were last season? No. Are PSG closer to the Champions League? No. You speak about goalscorers Goalscorers, you bring your own input to the team, but it’s a team game.’
Keane hit back that Ronaldo was never brought back to United to win titles. After a further exchange with Carragher he added: ‘It’s the FA Cup and getting in the Champions League. They’ve got to next round of CL how much is that worth to the club. If you’re looking at the business side of it, Glazers, share price that’s why he’s come back for. Second’s no good.’
Carragher responded: ‘When you sign Ronaldo at 36, it’s not to win in four years. If you sign someone at 36 or 37 it’s to win right now. If you sign Varane a four times Champions League winner, a World Cup winner right now. Are they any closer to winning?’
The pair continued their shouting match with Keane stating that Ronaldo is at the club to help them win cups and they’re ‘not gonna win the league’ in the next two to three years.
Gary Neville who not in attendance at the game, posted a video on social media of him laughing at their argument while watching it on his television at home.
The 36-year-old was visibly frustrated with United’s performance during the game and was captured shouting at his team-mates on the pitch.
Ronaldo was also booked in the second minute of stoppage time for arguing with the referee after Scott McTominay went down injured.
However, it was after the final whistle that highlighted Ronaldo’s frustration. The Portugal international refused to shake hands with the Chelsea players and ignored the United fans.
Instead, he headed straight for the tunnel and muttered to himself as he made his way to the changing rooms at Stamford Bridge.
Ronaldo also stormed off down the tunnel after United’s clash with Everton in October
This is not the first-time Ronaldo has stormed down the tunnel – having previously left the pitch in frustration following United’s 1-1 draw against Everton.
Speaking about this team selection before the game, Carrick said: ‘A few tweaks and changes from the other night, to change things up a bit.
‘Cristiano is probably our standout name, but it’s just game plan, ideas. I had a good chat with Cristiano actually, he was great, and we’ve decided to go like that today.’
Former United captain Roy Keane was left ‘surprised’ by Carrick’s decision, telling Sky Sports: ‘Ronaldo’s one of the great players. Carrick has a plan. Ronaldo’s come back to United to play these games.
‘He’s a big player for the big occasions, his stats against Chelsea aren’t great but I’m surprised with the decision to leave him out.’