Bruno Fernandes has told Sky Sports News he has “no problem” with Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo and says their awkward exchange in the Portugal dressing room was just a “joke”.
Fernandes exchanged a frosty handshake with Ronaldo on Monday as the pair met up with Portugal ahead of the World Cup amid Ronaldo’s explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticised United and boss Erik ten Hag.
But Fernandes has played down their interaction and says audio of the footage proves they were sharing a joke.
Asked by Sky Sports News reporter Gary Cotterill after Portugal’s 4-0 warm-up win over Nigeria whether he has a problem with Ronaldo, Fernandes responded: “I have no problem with anyone.
“I do my job and as a manager once said to me, everything that you can control is yourself. I think everyone thinks the same way, you have to control yourself, give your best and that’s it.”
Asked if he gave Ronaldo the cold shoulder, Fernandes replied: “Why do you say that?
“They put the sound [on] after. Did you hear it with the sound? You have to.
“In Portugal we have a problem, that I was watching one of the channels that was talking about that, ‘was cold, was bad’, for 45 minutes.
“All of a sudden they go to a break, the national team send it with sound.
“The sound says that he is joking with me and so they come back and said there was a joke and they cut there. They said, ‘if you want to see again just go back’, but if they go back they will see there’s a problem. But if they are really true and explain what was in that video people will know, but now people don’t know.
“This is the national team, Manchester United will be my focus after the World Cup.”
In his headline-grabbing interview with TalkTV, which has been released over the last few days, Ronaldo has criticised United, hit out at former team-mates and said the owners the Glazer family do not care about the club.
But Fernandes, who joined United in January 2020, insists he has not seen the interview with the Qatar World Cup his only focus.
He said: “I didn’t read the interview so I’m okay with that.
“Now it’s the national team, it’s Portugal. The coach made a point that it’s us. He’s made that point since I came to the national team in 2017 and that is still clear that in his mind the main thing here is the national team and us.
“We have to be focused on the World Cup because a World Cup doesn’t come every time. You don’t have a chance to play a World Cup many times.
“Cristiano will play in his fifth World Cup so everyone is ready for that and everyone wants to give their best for the team.”
Ronaldo says he felt “provoked” by Ten Hag after he refused to come on last month against Tottenham and left Old Trafford before the full-time whistle.
Ronaldo said he believes Ten Hag “does not respect” him in the way he “deserves”, although he had “regret” for his behaviour against Tottenham in October but feels the punishment he faced was too harsh.
In the final excerpt of his explosive interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, Ronaldo also revealed he rejected a €350m (£305m) offer to play in Saudi Arabia this summer and claimed he had “many offers” to leave United.
The 37-year-old revealed he plans to carry on his playing career until the age of 40, but does not know which club he will be representing beyond the World Cup in Qatar but hinted at a United exit suggesting it is “probably good to have a new chapter” in his career.
Away from United, Ronaldo said he would be “happy” if Arsenal won the Premier League, with the Gunners currently five points ahead of Manchester City at the top.
In clips previously aired this week from the same interview, Ronaldo disclosed he was “close” to moving to Manchester City last summer, before Sir Alex Ferguson intervened, and was particularly critical of the Ralf Rangnick era as well as the club’s crop of young players.
Neville: No way back for Ronaldo
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville says there is “no way back” for Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United after his explosive criticism of the club and manager Erik ten Hag, but insists he is not against his former team-mate.
Neville, who was himself criticised by Ronaldo during his interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, has told Sky Sports he cannot see the Portugal forward playing for the club again.
“No, and l don’t think he wants a way back,” Neville said. “He wouldn’t have done this interview if he wanted a way back. He knew it would bring the headlines it has and be the end of his Manchester United career.”
Manchester United have not yet indicated what action they may take following Ronaldo’s interview.
Neville added: “I’m wondering what Man Utd are doing because the reality of it is they know they have to terminate Cristiano’s contract or they basically open up a precedent so any player can criticise them in the future.”
Asked for his thoughts and whether he was against Ronaldo, Neville replied: “It’s not true, what he said, but all’s fair in love and war.
“I live in the game of criticism and know I have to accept it, and I get plenty of it back. I love all my team-mates I played with, including Cristiano.
“I’m not against Ronaldo – far from it. I couldn’t have any more admiration for him, I couldn’t have any more respect for him. He’s the greatest player I’ve ever seen and he’s the most talented player I ever played with.”