Roberto Martinez, the former Wigan boss and current manager of Portugal, has revealed why he decided to keep Cristiano Ronaldo on the Portugal national team despite his previous disagreement with former manager Fernando Santos.
Martinez, who became Portugal’s manager following their defeat to Morocco in the knockout stage, had six weeks to make a decision on whether Ronaldo should stay on as captain. The 38-year-old had scored four goals and was seen as a key leader on the team.
“The initial point was, how do you make those decisions? At that point, I understand there are a lot of feelings at a World Cup with a national team,” Martinez said in an interview on talkSPORT on Wednesday.
“I was appointed on January 9th and had six weeks with the starting point of meeting every player who was in that list of 26 players in Qatar.”
“For Cristiano, he wasn’t ready to step away, and then you can make a football decision. He scored four goals; he was a real leader, a captain, and someone who brings an experience that no other player has in world football, who needs to be used in your dressing room.”
Ronaldo, who had previously fallen out with Santos, was a controversial figure during the team’s World Cup campaign. Despite this, Martinez believed that keeping the star player on board was the right decision for the team’s success.
Many fans and critics had expected Martinez to take action against Ronaldo, given the player’s previous conflicts with Santos. However, the former Everton boss saw the situation differently.
“I think it’s important to understand that you have to base your decision on football,” Martinez explained. “When you’re talking about a tournament like the World Cup, where there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of emotion, you want to build a team where everyone plays for each other.”
He added, “It was important to have Cristiano, who brings his experience at the highest level of world football, to help the less experienced players.”
Martinez is known for his unconventional approach to management, and his decision to keep Ronaldo on board is just one example of his willingness to trust his instincts. As Portugal’s manager, he has shown that he is not afraid to make bold choices to achieve success.
Time will tell whether Martinez’s decision will pay off for Portugal, but for now, it seems that the team has the right leadership to push them forward and compete at the highest level of world football.