Man Utd are working with lawyers after Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview with Piers Morgan was released in full.
Jaap Stam sold his autobiography to The Mirror in 2001 and the newspaper ran a series of stories from the book. Although there was hardly a rush of competitors bidding for the autobiography, the nominal fee it was purchased for was worth every penny.
Piers Morgan, who was the editor of the newspaper at the turn of the millennium, claimed the book was a ‘veritable treasure trove of claims’ that were likely to ‘upset’ Sir Alex Ferguson. Morgan was right and Ferguson was not happy with his player.
Stam had claimed Ferguson had tapped him up and ordered United players to dive in European games, called the Neville brothers a ‘pair of busy little ****s’, and branded David Beckham so thick he’d never go on Mastermind. It was explosive tabloid material and the publication of the quotes eventually led to Stam’s departure from Old Trafford in unsavoury circumstances.
Although Ferguson initially told Stam not to worry about the release of the book, the centre-back was quickly left out of the squad to play Blackburn and the legendary former manager informed him that was due to the ‘hassle’ his autobiography had caused.
Later that week, Ferguson called Stam to ask where he was and the pair, who lived near each other, pulled into a petrol station to discuss his future, but unknowingly to the Dutchman, it had already been decided that he was leaving the club.
Stam said in 2020: “When he arrived, he got in my car and told me that the club had accepted an offer from Lazio. He said that he wanted to continue with two other defenders, Wes Brown and Laurent Blanc, which meant I’d be on the bench.
“I felt I’d be able to regain my place eventually, but in that short amount of time, our relationship was impacted in such a way that I felt as though I wanted to leave. I think he anticipated it. Within 24 hours, I’d gone to Rome and joined Lazio.”
Stam made over 125 appearances for United and won three Premier League titles, the Champions League and FA Cup during his three-year stay in Manchester, and the manner of his exit was disappointing, considering just how revered he was.
Within a week of his claims being published in The Mirror, Stam had been sold to Lazio and that’s something that Ferguson admitted he regretted years later, writing: “Jaap Stam was the one. Without a question, I made a mistake there.”
Regardless of Ferguson’s regret, Stam’s claims were ultimately the catalyst for his departure and history is repeating itself in 2022, with Cristiano Ronaldo choosing this week to speak in a bombshell interview to engineer a move away, which is exactly what he wants.
Morgan has ironically been involved again, just like he was with Stam, interviewing Ronaldo in an apparent PR exercise. There was absolutely no pushback from Morgan on key claims made in the interview and it felt like he was there to massage Ronaldo’s ego.
“Do you have more Instagram followers or money in the bank, Cristiano,” Morgan asked at one stage. He pandered to Ronaldo throughout the interview and it was cringeworthy.
Stam made claims that ended his career at Old Trafford with the help of Morgan and Ronaldo has done exactly the same two decades later. The only difference is Stam did not intend for his autobiography to have that effect, while it seems Ronaldo did.
Ronaldo said he ‘doesn’t respect’ Ten Hag in the stunning interview and he didn’t emerge from the 90-minute broadcast well when he essentially complained about being equally treated. Ten Hag has masterfully handled Ronaldo this season and his interview was full of contradictory claims that suggest he’s a 37-year-old that is struggling with the reality that his career is ending.
The centre-forward has scored three goals this season and two came against FC Sheriff (a rebound and a penalty). He has provided next to nothing to his side when not in possession and he hasn’t deserved to regularly start, as he clearly thinks.
United are now considering the possibility of terminating Ronaldo’s contract following his interview and the club are currently looking at taking legal action for a possible breach of contract. A statement from the club on Friday confirmed they have ‘initiated appropriate steps’ after the final part of Ronaldo’s interview was aired on Thursday night, which was the beginning of the end for the player.
Whatever happens with Ronaldo’s future in the next few weeks, it’s a shame it had to end this way. It’s a sad conclusion to his time spent at Old Trafford and it’s sad to see one of the game’s bona fide legends bow out from United in this fashion.
Ferguson said he ‘regretted’ Stam leaving the club, but it seems unlikely Ten Hag will ever say the same about Ronaldo.