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Portugal started Roberto Martinez’s reign in sublime fashion, registering emphatic wins over minnows Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. Cristiano Ronaldo had a glowing assessment of the new manager but Bruno Fernandes was less impressed.
While not staying on the pitch for the entirety of the 90 minutes, Ronaldo finished with a brace at each time of asking. CR7 took his tally to 122 international goals and credited Martinez for bringing a “breath of fresh air” and “different ideas and mentality” to the national team.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Roberto Martinez.
A new era begins now. pic.twitter.com/4cVynZC6Fk
— CristianoXtra (@CristianoXtra_) March 23, 2023
Fernandes, who scored twice in his last appearance for Manchester United, rejected Ronaldo’s opinion. The 28-year-old dismissed the changes attributed to Martinez, calling him a manager in transition.
“No, it’s just a new coach, with new ideas,” the Red Devils’ creator remarked. “There’s no breath of fresh air at all. It’s just a transitional period. The atmosphere in the national team has always been good. There are new dynamics, a new coach and we have to assimilate his ideas.”
Friends turned foes
This is not the first incident where Fernandes has been dismissive of Ronaldo. Tensions between them were high after Ronaldo left Old Trafford in acrimonious conditions. The former teammates seem to be at loggerheads with each other.
CR7 & BF8 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/OP6xVFhxXR
— َ (@FernandesZone) March 25, 2023
During the 2022 World Cup, a video emerged of Fernandes snubbing a handshake from Ronaldo. Rumours of rift were swiftly set aside by the pair but it seems their problems have escalated.
“I have no problem with anyone,” Fernandes told Sky Sports. “I do my job and as a manager once said to me, everything that you can control is yourself. I think everyone thinks the same way, you have to control yourself, give your best and that’s it.”
It has been a spectacular dwindling of fortunes between two attacking stars. It should be remembered that it was Ronaldo who championed Fernandes’ move to Old Trafford and was vocal about his next step up.
Martinez to step up
His younger compatriot responded in kind by supplying him the balls to reach untold heights, with the national team and in the Manchester United setup. Both are undisputed starters and when the door closed for Ronaldo in Manchester, he moved away with a bang.
Men’s footballers with 100+ international goals:
▪️ Cristiano Ronaldo—122
▪️ Ali Daei—109
▪️ Lionel Messi—101 pic.twitter.com/yq8asS5Pqm
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 29, 2023
While no one has to worry about their relationship in United’s colours after Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassar, the bad blood between the two can impact their qualifying campaign for Germany.
The bickering between Portugal’s fines needs to be stopped if they are to have a harmonious dressing room for the 2024 European Championships. It will be Ronaldo’s final hurrah on the international stage, one in which he would like to bid his final farewell.
CR7 will need his partner in crime firing on all cylinders, something he will not be able to achieve if they cannot even provide a common front for the national team manager. Martinez will have to interfere, to give assurances to the duo if he wants to continue as the Portugal boss.
As Ronaldo continues to thrive in the national team, Fernandes’ ego will have to be stroked as well. The 28-year-old is the focal point at Man United and needs the same love from the Navigators.