“I’m better than him” = ‘Angry’ Bruno Fernandes response to Cristiano Ronaldo favouritism predicted – with former Man Utd team-mate claiming CR7 has ‘earned’ the right not to be substituted

WHAT HAPPENED?

Questions were asked of Portugal’s handling of their talismanic captain throughout a Euro 2024 campaign that was ended by France at the quarter-final stage. Despite now being 39 years of age, Ronaldo started every game for his country in what will be a last European Championship appearance.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Roberto Martinez seemingly bowed to the demands of his enigmatic skipper, despite seeing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner fail to break his goal duck through five outings – with one penalty being missed and several wayward free-kicks fired a long way off target.

WHAT BROWN SAID

Ronaldo was only replaced once, in a final group sage clash with Georgia, and former Manchester United defender Brown has told the Euro Thrash podcast of how current Red Devils star Fernandes will have responded to being hauled off before his misfiring team-mate: “He would have been angry. He came off in the 75th minute [against France] and he was actually getting on the ball trying to create. You’re going to be frustrated. But if anything, Ronaldo has earned that. I know it is tough but he has 100% earned the right to stay on the pitch, because he can still get you a goal.”

Brown added: “There is a lot of respect in that team for Ronaldo. There was one free kick that was not even of his side, but he took it anyway because he wants to score. I do think it comes to a stage and the lads will think ‘he’s not going to take him off, there’s no chance, this is going to be his last Euros’. He is still that guy who can get you a goal. I don’t think there is anyone else in that team who has been scoring outright. Yes, he wasn’t playing particularly well, but I don’t think the manager wanted that responsibility and the press that comes with it to take him off, that definitely would have come into it a little bit.”

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