Football

It's only about him

The Portugal squad arrived back in Lisbon yesterday amid little fanfare, with a small group of fans turning out to welcome home their fallen heroes.

Having finished third in their World Cup group, and failing to qualify for the next round on goal difference, the apathy from the Portugal fans was perhaps to be expected, and was probably how the players themselves would have wanted it.

But star forward Cristiano Ronaldo would soon have heard the criticism directed at him

The Real Madrid man (above) returned home and was blasted for his failure to believe in his Portugal teammates in Brazil.

Manuel Jose claimed Ronaldo treated his teammates like "subordinates".

The outspoken Jose, who has coached the likes of Sporting Lisbon, Benfica and Vitoria de Guimaraes in the Primeira Liga, delivered a stinging critique of Ronaldo's contribution in Brazil, when he said: "He is a fantastic player but every time he speaks, he comes out with a blunder.

"He ended up saying that he never believed in the team. If he does not believe in the team, then he doesn't believe in his teammates.

"Portugal have been carrying the 'world's best' like a diamond ring that we never had. The other players were treated like subordinates. Completely."

Reportedly not 100 per cent fit after injuring a knee at the end of his club campaign, Ronaldo managed to score a goal against Ghana and provided a late assist for Silvestre Varela in the 2-2 draw with the United States.

Former Real star Raul came out in support of the star, saying he was sad to see him exit football's showpiece event so quickly.

Raul felt Ronaldo's exploits during a long club season affected his performances for Portugal.

The Ballon d'Or winner enjoyed a successful campaign at the Bernabeu, scoring 51 goals to help his side to triumphs in the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

"It was a sad exit from the World Cup for Cristiano Ronaldo," the 37-year-old Al Sadd forward wrote in his column for The Times of India.

"Ronaldo had to be at his best for Portugal to snatch a big win against Ghana. He did get a goal, which turned out to be the winner, but that was not enough.

"The World Cup will not see the world's best player beyond the group stage and that is sad.

"Ronaldo was undoubtedly the player of the season, having helped Real Madrid to a 10th European title, scoring 17 goals in 11 Champions League matches, and breaking all records.

"But as we have seen so many times in the last few years, club commitments once again took its toll on a superstar and football's biggest show missed a chance to see him in full flow."

- Wire Services.

World Cup