Santos insists interview ‘doesn’t impact’ Portugal in heated press conference

Fernando Santos insists Cristiano Ronaldo’s controversial interview with Piers Morgan “doesn’t impact” Portugal in a heated press conference in which the manager was bombarded with questions about Cristiano Ronaldo’s controversial interview with Piers Morgan.

The striker has been all over the news in recent days having heavily criticised Manchester United in his sit down with the TalkTV host.

Santos was repeatedly asked about Ronaldo’s interview and played down any impact it might be having on the Portugal dressing room.

Portugal face Uruguay, South Korea and Ghana, kicking off against the latter next Thursday.

“This issue isn’t related to us, it isn’t related to the national team,” Santos insisted. “The man, the player, decided to give an interview, like other athletes and men decide to do to discuss personal matters.

“This doesn’t spill out to the national team, as far as I know, he didn’t talk about the national team, so it’s a personal interview which we need to respect. These days tolerance is a buzz word and we need to respect what others think and say, provided it doesn’t impact what I do. None of my players have made a comment regarding the interview, at all.”

Santos confirmed that Ronaldo didn’t need to notify him or the Portuguese FA of doing the interview.

He added: “Cristiano Ronaldo is a free man. The buzz and discussion (around him) is taking place outside the national team. It doesn’t impact us.”

Santos also confirmed that Ronaldo will miss Portugal’s World Cup warm-up game against Nigeria on Thursday due to gastroenteritis.

He said: “He will not be ready for tomorrow. He’s losing a lot of liquid, he’s suffering from gastroenteritis and he isn’t training. He’s in his room resting and recovering, I’m 100 per cent sure he won’t be available.”

Asked if his illness was genuine, Santos laughed and replied: “If it was any other player you wouldn’t ask that question. It’s a fact he’s suffering from gastroenteritis. Any player will struggle if you’re suffering from that. He’s not ready to play.”

Given Ronaldo’s frustration over his lack of game time at United, there have been some suggestions he may be dropped from the Portugal team, but Santos vehemently denied he would ever be forced to play Ronaldo.

“Forced? This is not about forcing me,” Santos said angrily. “This is not a requirement. No one is forced to do anything here. The question could be, you could ask me, based on what Cristiano Ronaldo did (in recent weeks on the pitch) should he start?

“This is valid for Cristiano Ronaldo and all the players who are with the national team. If the head coach is forced to put a player in the XI…there aren’t those things here.”

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