Bruno Fernandes believes Cristiano Ronaldo is at his best in the face of criticism and hopes his acrimonious departure from Manchester United will give him a boost at the World Cup.
Ronaldo’s mutually agreed departure from Old Trafford was confirmed on Tuesday after the turmoil caused by his interview with Piers Morgan, and he went to Portugal’s World Cup opening night on Thursday as a free agent.
He took center stage as only Ronaldo, winning a penalty before getting up to take it and becoming the first player to score in five World Cup finals.
Andre Ayew equalized for Ghana but quick goals from Joao Felix and Rafael Leao helped Portugal kick off their Qatar campaign with a 3-2 win.
For many players, entering such an important tournament with criticism ringing in their ears after a chaotic divorce from the club could destroy them, but Fernandes believes the opposite is true for Ronaldo.
“I think he likes to work under that criticism from everyone, so I pray for all of you to keep doing that because he gives it his all when you do it,” Fernandes said.
“I still share a place with him in the national team and the most important thing for me is that Portugal will give their best in the tournament because if we do that, Cristiano will be happy, I will be happy and everyone in Portugal will be happy for us.”
Manchester City playmaker Bernardo Silva has no idea where Ronaldo’s club career will take him, but agreed when asked if the veteran could stay in one of Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues.
“I think so. But it depends on what he wants. I don’t know what he wants from life. He has to talk to his family and decide for himself, right?
“I support his decision (to leave United) in terms of, it’s his decision. He’s my teammate in Portugal – if he’s happy, we’re happy.
“We are happy that we can still count on him – not only in goal, but he also worked a lot for the team.