Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit has not held back when questioned about Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent antics.
Ronaldo was suspended by the club after he left Old Trafford early, following their 2-0 win over Spurs. As a result, he was omitted from the United squad for their 1-1 draw with Chelsea this weekend.
The 37-year-old has cut a frustrated figure in recent weeks as he has struggled for consistent game time.
Erik ten Hag has taken a strong approach when it comes to Ronaldo and Petit has had plenty to say on the situation.
The former Premier League midfielder explained (via The Rothen S’enflamme): “He tires everyone: the supporters, his teammates. They don’t want him anymore in the locker room, he pollutes everyone so much.
“He has an exceptional career, when he stops we will all be unanimous in saying it, but his behaviour is so individualistic.
“His message yesterday on social media. You know you don’t like what’s going on with your club, you can’t stand your coach Ten Hag anymore, you feel like you are disrespected for what you have done, but your status no longer exists!
“You are no longer the same player, you have been demoted, you have suffered a downgrade, but you do not accept it because your ego is so oversized. Say it real! It can’t be defensible.”
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Ronaldo has featured in eight Premier League matches this season, with six of his appearances coming from the bench.
Petit’s comments are shared by plenty of fans, but several of Ronaldo’s former teammates have come to his defence.
For example, Roy Keane explained: “He’s obviously had enough and he’s lost his head. I think it’s been brewing now for the last few weeks.
“But I will still try and defend him. He is a human being, he’s got flaws. He feels frustrated that he’s not been getting opportunities, he’s had enough and walked down the tunnel. I think players have done a lot worse things at Manchester United. It happens, it’s human nature.
“Everyone was talking after the game about how they beat Spurs, how it was a big win, that it was the best performance in years… rubbish. Absolute rubbish.
“Spurs were terrible. United beat Spurs at home as well last year when Ronaldo got a hat-trick so he was more than capable of getting on the pitch and making a difference. But he has to take his punishment.”
Man United face Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League in midweek. Ten Hag may see the midweek match as a chance to reintroduce Ronaldo to the first team.
The majority of Ronaldo’s minutes have come in the Europa League this season. The 37-year-old has started in all four of their European matches so far and has scored one goal.
Time will tell on Ronaldo’s next destination and how he and the club move forward from this.
READ MORE: Transfer gossip: Ronaldo could take pay cut to join Chelsea; Real Madrid want Man Utd defender
GEORGIA’S TEAM MAY not be filled with household names, but Ireland have been preparing to face ‘the Lelos’ with exactly the same dilligence as they did for their win over South Africa last weekend.
Such is life under Joe Schmidt.
Regardless of the opposition, Ireland’s players are expected to be as well-prepared as if they were taking on New Zealand each weekend. Constant improvement is the only acceptable goal in Schmidt’s world.
“Definitely, that is one of the things Joe has really pushed on us,” says second row Mike McCarthy.
“We have plenty to work on up front from the South Africa game, which Joe has been telling us all week.”
The negatives from last weekend’s win certainly were based around the set-piece, and although Ireland have retained only Mike Ross from last weekend’s pack, forwards coach Simon Easterby and Schmidt have been demanding better this time around.
O’Connell has been busy at Carton House this week. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Georgia’s backline is relatively weak, but their starting pack includes several Top 14-contracted powerhouses and will again test Ireland’s strength in the tight.
“We’re certainly expecting a forwards battle,” says McCarthy. “They’re big, they’re physical, they’re very strong and they’re going to look to take us on up front. We are under no illusions about how big a task it is going to be up front.”
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With no Paul O’Connell to run the line-out tomorrow, Munster’s Dave Foley will take over the calling of that set-piece on his debut, while McCarthy will do his best to make the 26-year-old’s entry into international rugby as smooth as possible.
O’Connell has been a vocal presence among the forwards even this week, one in which he has been rested from the matchday squad. No overbearing influence from the captain, just a flow of information about the set-piece systems.
Not that Foley needs minding.
“I can call them again if needed . The systems are all the same so it should all flow very smoothly. Dave has been speaking to Paulie all week and Paulie has been helping him. The lineouts have run very smoothly in training this week.”
McCarthy wins caps number 17 this weekend, while Foley gets his first. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
McCarthy was used off the bench last weekend against South Africa, but has been promoted into the starting team to face Georgia. Tomorrow’s meeting will see the Leinster lock win his 17th Ireland cap.
The difference between preparing to make an impact as a replacement and getting set to start a game appear very different from the outside, but McCarthy explains that Schmidt’s demands mean subs and starters have similar mindsets.
“Obviously there have been injuries and those guys coming in have just got to fit in like a cog in the wheel, know their detail, where they’re meant to be, what they’re meant to be doing.
“That’s all he asks really.”
Schmidt working towards perfection despite wholesale changes for IrelandGeorgia name team featuring several Top 14 forwards to face Ireland
Former Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas has slammed Emerson Royal for his “ridiculous” no-look pass in the 1-1 draw with Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday.
Antonio Conte’s side could only manage a draw at home against the Portuguese side which means they need a point away at Marseille in their last group game to secure qualification to the last 16.
Spurs thought they had won it with the last kick of the game as Harry Kane swept home from close range, but after a lengthy check the England captain was ruled offside and it ended 1-1.
Conte was shown a red card for his protestations and said after the game that “VAR is doing a lot of damage”.
But the Spurs boss may well have reserved some of his anger for Royal, whose unnecessary bit of skill let Sporting “off the hook” towards the end of the game.
Spurs were knocking on the door for a winner and piling huge amounts of pressure on Ruben Amorim’s men.
Royal, finding himself in plenty of space on the right, had time to pick a pass or deliver a cross but instead attempted a no-look pass to the overlapping Bryan Gil and completely overhit it.
The ball went out for a Sporting goal-kick to a chorus of groans and shouts from the Spurs fans and Jenas joined them in their frustrations.
Jenas told BT Sport: “It’s ridiculous. If you’re going to do it at least have the quality to do it.
“You’re just letting the team off the hook.”
But former Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg claimed Hugo Lloris was the man to blame for Spurs failing to secure the win they needed.
Spurs old boy Marcus Edwards had a pop at goal from a long way out and the ball crept in past Lloris.
“It was quick play,” Ljungberg told CBS Sports. “Gomes goes into the middle of the park, it’s a long, long way out for Edwards.
“But I am sorry, Lloris you need to do better on that, especially when there is so much at stake.
“He has struggled a bit lately. I hold him responsible for the first one, then doing this (when he came out of his box) at the end of the game, sorry Lloris, that’s not good decision-making.”
MAILBOX: Antonio Conte needs to stop complaining (it was offside) and Liverpool need players in January
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IRELAND COACH JOE Schmidt has made two changes from the side that faced South Africa a fortnight ago for Saturday’s final November Test against Australia.
The changes see experienced campaigners Rory Best and Gordon D’Arcy come back into the starting line-up, the latter winning his 81st cap at inside centre.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
After impressing in D’Arcy’s favoured position, Robbie Henshaw switches to outside centre where he has played the majority of his rugby this season.
Up front, Mike Ross starts his third Test in as many weeks alongside Best and Jack McGrath.
In all there are 12 changes from the victory over Georgia last Sunday with Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo forming the back three while Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray resume their brilliant partnership.
Rhys Ruddock, another who proved an effective fresh face in the win over South Africa, gets another chance to show his worth at openside of a back row that also contains Peter O’Mahony and Jamie Heaslip.
On the replacements bench, Dave Foley will hope to win his second cap after a man-of-the-match display on his debut last week. The half-back cover is provided by Eoin Reddan and Ian Madigan with Felix Jones the acting understudy for the back three positions.
Ireland ( v Australia):
15. Rob Kearney.
14. Tommy Bowe.
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Gordon D’Arcy.
11. Simon Zebo
10. Jonathan Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best
3. Mike Ross
4. Devin Toner
5. Paul O’Connell (Capt.)
6. Pater O’Mahony
7. Rhys Ruddock
8. Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Rodney Ah You, Dave Foley, Tommy O’Donnell, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Felix Jones.
Toomua and Speight to start as Australia make four changes for Ireland Test
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Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans reportedly “wants” to join Arsenal and he will sign for the London club “if they move” for him.
It was expected that Tielemans would leave Leicester City in the summer as he entered the final year of his contract.
The Foxes were begrudgingly willing to let this happen with them demanding around £30m before his value starts to decline.
Arsenal are known to admire Tielemans but they decided against making a move for him before the summer transfer window closed.
The Gunners could instead be playing a waiting game with it reportedly clear that Tielemans does not intend to pen a contract extension.
Despite this, Tielemans has performed well for Leicester in recent weeks and he has been their captain for four straight Premier League games.
Arsenal also targeted Douglas Luiz in the summer. The Aston Villa man also looked set to be out of contract next summer but a transfer now appears to be off the table as he has signed fresh terms.
As for Tielemans, CBS journalist Ben Jacobs has suggested that the pursuit for him is “all about what Arsenal want”.
“It’s an intriguing one because they’ve put in a lot of work for Tielemans,” Jacobs told GiveMeSport.
“They know that Tielemans wants Arsenal, so this is not the type of transfer where Arsenal have to worry about player buying. If they move for Tielemans, then Tielemans will join Arsenal.
“But it’s all about what Arsenal want, what’s right for their chemistry and dynamic mid-season, if we’re talking about January.
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“Their interest has never gone away. It’s one to watch because he’s in good form now for Leicester and he’s a goalscorer.”
Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers has been under-fire this season but he has been quick to praise Tielemans for not letting the rumours “affect him”.
“We have a number of players out of contract come the end of the season,” Rodgers said.
“My focus has been on working with him and getting out of the situation we are in. So everything else is not really spoken about from my perspective.”
Rodgers added: “We had a number of long chats in the summer.
“There is clearly no doubt even a young guy who is focused like Youri and very professional, it can have an impact.
“But he has been fully focused. He doesn’t let that affect him. He is a top-class professional, he sees the game how I see it.
“On the field, he understands what is happening within the game and that’s all he can do – give his very best – and his recent performances have been excellent.”
READ MORE: Arsenal have their unsung hero to thank for a return to form – and England have to take note
AUSTRALIA’S ATTACK PLAYED a starring role in a wonderful game of rugby at the Aviva Stadum on Saturday evening, asking major questions of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland.
Michael Cheika’s side dragged the home team around the pitch in the first half, stretching the home side’s defence to breaking point on a number of occasions.
The Wallabies certainly deserve credit for their attacking ability, but Schmidt and co. will look at their first-half defence from a viewpoint of self criticism.
There was a distinct improvement after the break, with Ireland limiting the Australians to just three points in the second 40 minutes. An increased focus on linespeed, more connection, better spacing in the defensive line and a huge work rate helped Paul O’Connell’s side to turn things around.
Big plays early on
Ireland actually started the game with a pair of thumping hits, much in line with their best work during the remarkable 16-minute blitz of the Wallabies that left them 17-0 ahead.
Simon Zebo is the first man to leave his mark, as we see below, an excellent beginning to what was a superb defensive performance from the Munster wing.
It’s a dominant tackle from Zebo well beyong the gainline and means the Wallabies lose huge yardage on their very first attack of the evening. More importantly, it’s a strong decision from Ireland’s left wing, who shuts down a notable overlap.
Australia’s width tested Ireland in a major way for the entire first half, and we get some indication of that element on this opening thrust, as they attempt to shift the ball from left to right, and wide to the opposite touchline.
The Wallabies use of Adam Ashley-Cooper as a decoy in midfield sits Ireland’s centres down for a split second, holding them infield and preventing them from immediately drifting out wide.
That in turn means Zebo is left a little stranded in the situation below, with Michael Hooper, Henry Speight and Ben McCalman waiting outside Tevita Kuridrani.
Rather than sit back and allow the Wallabies to make up a big gainline advantage, or even a linebreak down Ireland’s left, Zebo opts to shoot off his wing and shut the play down swiftly.
It’s an excellent decision, well-timed and with a clear underlying desire for the collision. On the very next phase, Paul O’Connell gets up with great linespeed to make another dominant tackle behind the gainline, this time on Luke Jones.
While these are two excellent defensive plays to start the game for Ireland, the Wallabies do make advances down their left touchline on the very next phase, giving another sign as to how they intend to play the game.
This same wide-to-wide pattern is something that comes to stretch Ireland greatly later in the half.
Warning signs in second minute
On this very same passage of attack from the Wallabies, there is a clear warning shot for Ireland of how big a test the creative and multi-faceted attack of Cheika’s men is going to be.
This is just the second minute of the game, and already the Wallabies have created a bust of the Irish line. Cheika’s side run a clever screen-pass play, with the dreadlocked Saia Fainga’a pulling the ball behind Hooper to Kuridrani.
From an Irish point of view, we get a sense of the lack of connectivity in their defence, even at this early stage of the game.
As we see below, O’Connell is in a good position to get to Fainga’a and make the tackle on the Wallabies hooker. If that had happened, it would have meant Mike Ross being in place to shift out onto Hooper, and therefore allowed Gordon D’Arcy  to cover that pass ‘out the back door’ to Kuridrani.
Instead what happens is that Ross bites in on Fainga’a, in turn dragging D’Arcy in on Hooper and opening space outside Ireland’s 12. Further out the line, Johnny Sexton is not making that same out-to-in action, leaving the hole for Kuridrani to run into.
Generally, most defences will operate under the idea that should one player bite in, as Ross does here, the players outside him will do the same. For Sexton, the fact that the Wallabies are holding width out on the left touchline makes it more difficult for him to commit inside.
Whatever about the philosophy behind Ireland’s system, defence coach Les Kiss would have been unhappy with this instance of a loss of connection in the line. More positively, Robbie Henshaw does well to hunt from the inside and make the covering tackle.
On the next phase, Rhys Ruddock comes up with a big choke tackle to redeem the situation, ably aided by Ross, Devin Toner, Jack McGrath and D’Arcy.
Even when Ireland were going about their early scoring frenzy, the defensive weaknesses were apparent. Indeed, Tommy Bowe’s intercept try came from a major breakdown of Ireland’s defence, with the Ulster wing saving a desperate situation.
Immediately following Zebo’s try, Ireland exit their 22 and the Wallabies come back hard on the kick return, with Bernard Foley making a searing break and offload.
There is a hole inside D’Arcy in the instance above, and he would have preferred one of Ireland’s chasing forwards to cover out across the field a little more, but even still the inside centre will have been disappointed with his contact on Foley.
The Wallabies out-half is coming at pace and on a lovely angle, but D’Arcy would always back himself to complete the tackle. Foley’s break means Australia are right onto the front foot, leaving Ireland in a really difficult defensive situation.
We see that below, as Ireland are still setting their defensive line even as Phipps moves the ball away.
That allows Israel Folau to pick a soft shoulder and offload to McCalman, again breaching the Ireland line.
After Jack McGrath makes a good tackle on the very next phase, Australia are left with a three-on-one out on the left and really should have scored. Cheika will have been left raging with their inability to finish, but Bowe deserves major credit for his intercept.
Phipps breaks away
Bowe dots down, but again Ireland give the Wallabies a way back into the game. Zebo’s attempted offload to Sexton is blocked down by Foley, and Phipps is in the perfect place to benefit.
Much has been said about the offload from Zebo elsewhere, and it certainly seemed a time for Ireland to hold the ball, but our focus here is on the defensive effort after Phipps scoops up the pill.
It’s a truly difficult scenario to defend in again, a totally broken-up portion of the game and one in which the Wallabies always thrive. Ireland would have focused on avoiding these situations as often as possible during their preparation.
Phipps’ little dummy just makes Rob Kearney sit off, while Rory Best simply doesn’t have the pace to stretch back and make the tackle. As the ‘last’ defender for Ireland, Kearney probably feels he can’t commit in on Phipps.
He’s worried about having to spin around to his outside should the pass be realeased, and is hoping for a tackle on the scrum-half from inside.
Toner is covering across and overruns Phipps, accentuating Kearney’s decision to stand off and cover the outside. It all adds up to the Wallabies’ nine scampering clear for a what is simple, superbly-taken try.
Out of the comfort zone
Australia’s next try, through Bernard Foley, came as the end result of a really poor passage of attack from Ireland, who struggled to get over the gainline and eventually threw a panicked pass, before Sexton sliced the ball into touch inside their own 22.
An initial maul shove failed for the Wallabies, before Foley went cross-field to Speight, and then referee Glen Jackson and TMO Eric Guazins awarded a much-discussed try to out-half Foley.
In terms of the Irish defence for that score, which you can see more of here, Schmidt and Kiss might point to the fact that Foley went through the tackle of Ruddock even to get that close to the line. They will expect the flanker to win those collisions in the future.
That habit of losing metres in the tackle was present throughout the first half, although we will see later that Ireland largely remedied the problem after the break. Back to the first half, the Wallabies next try, Phipps’ second, was a marvel, a score of real beauty.
50 second after Phipps collects the bouncing ball just outside Australia’s 22, he scores at the other end of the pitch, capping a superb movement in which each of the Wallabies played an important part.
Here, however, we’re looking at the score from an Irish defensive point of view. In that regard, it is the Wallabies’ width that ensures Schmidt’s men struggle. On the third phase of the attack, the visitors spread the ball all the way to the right touchline.
Not too many teams in the world will run the ball from their 22 in this manner, and we see below how much pressure it puts on Ireland. Rob Kearney is the widest defender, but inside him Peter O’Mahony and Rory Best are already working hard to cover across.
O’Mahony actually does very well to get into position to tackle McCalman; he’s usually good in these situations in wide channels, where other forwards might struggle. That leaves Kearney with a one-on-one against Speight, but the tackle is missed.
Kearney almost knocks the Wallaby wing into touch, but Speight has the balance and skill to release a sublime pass behind his back and inside to Foley. Panic stations for Ireland.
There is a stroke of fortune for Australia as Phipps’ pass on the next phase rebounds off Zebo’s hand and back to Speight, but even still, their attacking intent and speed of recycling leaves Ireland grasping.
As Phipps moves the ball left to Matt Toomua [who was sensational for the Wallabies], it’s clear that Ireland prop McGrath is stranded and in big trouble.
The sheer space on either side of McGrath is the issue here, and again it’s that Wallaby width we’ve already talked about that causes Ireland’s problems. When we get a view from behind the posts, we get a better sense of exactly what Kiss’ men have to defend against.
We’ve highighted Ashley-Cooper wide on Australia’s left with a red circle above, as he hugs the touchline and just stretches out Ireland’s resources.
The players outside McGrath have set up wider than they did at earlier stages of the game, mainly because they are now so aware of that Australian width. This Ireland set-up, as indicated below, means they are going to have to defend from out-to-in, rather than vice versa, as would be preferable in this situation.
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Futhermore, the fact that Ireland have had to retreat halfway down the pitch after Speight’s initial surge and offload means they don’t really have time to set up exactly as they would hope to.
The Wallabies are intelligent enough to identify the space around McGrath, targeting his inside shoulder for the linebreak. Despite everything, Toner – who has started some distance inside McGrath – gets across to attempt the tackle, but again it’s a miss.
It’s one Toner will be deeply unhappy with, getting brushed off by the 90kg Foley, but it’s all about the circumstances. The ball has been in play for 1min 16secs at this stage, and Toner has gotten through an Irish scrum, an effective rucking effort, and then covered a whole lot of ground in defence.
It’s the genius of the Wallabies attack, dragging teams around the pitch, forcing forwards like Toner out of their comfort zone and into errors like this missed tackle.
Indeed, the Leinster lock is superb in making his one-on-one front-on hits in phase play in usual circumstances. What he’s probably not as used to is making tackles against a team like the Wallabies, who stretch the opposition with their width and intelligence.
In behind the line, Sexton is sweeping across, but he steps beyond Foley and also slips off the tackle. Again, it’s a miss the Ireland out-half will have been unhappy with.
There was one further important bust for the Wallabies before half-time, providing them with three points in the 37th minute. Again, this thrust was about the Wallabies width and invention, as well as Ireland’s lack of connectivity in defence.
Everything we look at in this article is founded in Australian attacking quality, as with this break, but again this is something Ireland will have looked at as avoidable. A scrum close to halfway is always an ideal platform for backs to attack from, but even at that, Schmidt and Kiss will have been disappointed.
Initally, Ireland are comfortable. Sexton, D’Arcy and Henshaw eat up the first few metres in defence at speed, getting up aggressively from their starting position and then settling into their drift across the pitch as the Wallabies carry out their starter play.
We can see below that D’Arcy is communicationg well, pointing to Toomua and presumably saying something like “I’m on ball, my man.” That tells Henshaw that he can push out on to Folau, in turn freeing Tommy Bowe to cover the pass out the back door.
However, Bowe makes the decision to bite in on Folau from his position as the last defender on the outside edge of the line. Earlier, we lauded Zebo for doing something similar, but this is an entirely different situation for Ireland.
This time, the defenders inside Bowe are in good positions to cover across and make tackles, unlike when Zebo made his intervention. On this occasion, Bowe bites in and hits a player who doesn’t actually get the ball.
D’Arcy completes his tackle on Toomua, but the Wallabies’ inside centre has the strength and skill to offload, allowing Speight to send Foley racing up the left and deep into Ireland’s half.
For Ireland’s forwards getting up out of the scrum, it’s the nightmare situation. They are forced to work back all of 40 metres to get into position to defend. Again, it’s drawing them out of their comfort zone and Toner is pinged for offside on the very next phase.
Foley makes no mistake from the tee and it’s three points for the Wallabies.
A harrowing half
While Ireland scored 20 points in the first half, it was a harrowing experience from a defensive viewpoint. The Wallabies’ pace, width and invention dragged Ireland out of shape and out of their comfort zone in alarming fashion.
If the game had continued along a similar trajectory after the break, it would have been difficult to see Schmidt’s side emerging with the win. However, having regrouped under Kiss’s input at half time, Ireland were able to reinvent their defence and begin to push the pressure back onto the Wallabies.
We will look at that Irish transformation in the second part of this analysis. Longer-term, it is a concern for Ireland that they were manipulated in this way by Cheika’s side.
Against a more structured, powerful side like South Africa, Ireland were superb in making plenty of front-on tackles on runners coming around the corner. Australia are a different proposition, however, and lessons will have been learned from the chinks exposed in that first half.
Analysis: Ireland’s first-quarter blitz lays foundation for win over WallabiesHere’s every try scored in the Pro12 this weekend while you were glued to the autumn tests