Cristiano Ronaldo has thrown his tantrum and got his way - but will he come to regret it?

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The Manchester United icon had his contract terminated by mutual consent on Tuesday.

By the end, it was a bit like that film, 127 Hours. Nobody wants to hack off their own arm with a multi-tool, nobody wants to admit that a seemingly well thought out adventure has lost its footing and tumbled into a wretched death spiral, but when you’re quite literally stuck between a rock and a hard place, stranded in a creek facing an inevitable demise, sometimes the only thing to do is to make a break - whether that be clean or gory.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Manchester United will perhaps be remembered as both. In a relatively literal sense, the immediate termination of his contract on Tuesday was as definitive and sudden a separation as either party could have hoped for. If Ronaldo arrived for his second stint at Old Trafford with all the giddy spontaneity of a drunken Las Vegas wedding officiated by an unconvincing Elvis impersonator, yesterday’s revelation was very much a no-questions-asked annulment hastily filed at the county court.

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But in another, more melodramatic sense, Ronaldo’s exit made James Franco’s self-dismemberment look like a papercut. There had, of course, been tremors for quite some time. Cristiano’s appetite for attention is akin to that of a tapeworm. He’s like a perma-tanned Veruca Salt, a quivering black hole with an ego the size of a cruise liner attached. When the boat capsized, the oil slick was always going to decimate the ecosystem. Behind the scenes at Old Trafford, Steve McClaren is probably scrubbing Phil Jones with a toothbrush as we speak.

AFP via Getty Images

In stark contrast, Erik ten Hag, like a mam doing the weekly shop at Aldi, clearly doesn’t care about big names. The Dutchman has his ways, and as he has proven already, those ways were never likely to cater to an ageing matinee idol who runs less than an Easter Island head and who cries when his sandwiches aren’t cut up just how he likes them. The two, in summation, were fundamentally incompatible.

And then came Ronaldo’s bombshell interview with the sycophant we’re all sick of, Piers Morgan. In fairness, the two have a lot in common. Both think the sun itself shines out of Cristiano’s backside. Both have a propensity for storming off when things aren’t going their way. Both have a real disregard for other people’s phones, whether it’s slapping them out of hands or allegedly letting their underlings hack them. Anyways, this cosy little chat they had; I’ve heard knock knock jokes that contain more investigative scrutiny. The five-time Ballon d’Or basically embarked on a lengthy, self-pitying whinge-athon while Morgan assured him he was a brave, brave soldier and gazed at him with the same eager, blind devotion that my German Shepherd fixes me with when I dangle a lump of cheese in front of her nose.

Nothing and nobody was safe from Ronaldo’s carping wrath. United bore the brunt of the flack, but there was plenty of collateral damage besides. Even Wayne Rooney caught some strays for, checks notes, not being pretty enough. Now, granted, Wazza has never exactly been catalogue model material - few of us are - but perhaps Cristiano would do well to remember that before the sponsorship money kicked in, he spent the early part of his career looking like somebody had spilled a Pot Noodle in a shoebox of loose piano keys.

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Pettiness aside, this was Ronaldo’s last ditch effort at razing any lingering affections that those who paid his astronomical wages may have held. As he walked away from the smouldering rubble of his handiwork, Morgan tucked snugly in a papoose against his freshly-Veeted chest, you would have to say that it worked. In some respects, it’s a minor miracle that he lasted as long as he did. Plenty of employers would have had his personal belongings waiting in a bin bag by the front desk before the broadcast had even ended.

Of course, there are caveats, just as there are two sides to every story. Nobody but Ronaldo will truly know the impact that the passing of his newborn son, Angel, has had on his mental health and his personal priorities. That unimaginable loss, let’s not forget, happened just seven months ago. Grief is a complex and cruel beast that can engulf and gnaw in raging hurricanes and deafening lulls alike, and that affects everybody differently. For that, Cristiano and his family deserve unreserved sympathy, and the immense tenderness of understanding. Likewise, regardless of your opinions on the man, as a character and as a player, there is a certain hushed tragedy to the prospect of one of the game’s most enduring monoliths slowly succumbing to the ravages of time. He simply would not be human if he hadn’t been struck by the odd bout of existentialism.

And all of this begs the question, what next? Presumably, Ronaldo believes he still has a future in the game beyond Portugal’s World Cup campaign. Nobody would resort to such extreme measures, like spending an hour-and-a-half in Piers Morgan’s company, and voluntarily absorb such a lucrative financial blow (a reported £11.5 million, in case you are bothered by such things), just to evaporate into the ether.

A Champions League giant would likely be his destination of choice, but honestly, at this stage, who would have him? Does, then, Ronaldo shy away from the happening continental scene and instead opt for a move that takes him to warmer climes, bulging pay packets, or ideally both? Perhaps, but again, could his pride handle life on the hinterland circuit? Maybe. Maybe not.

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As things stand, Ronaldo has thrown his tantrum and gotten his way. In the immediacy you would imagine that he will be quite content with the ends, even if the means have been somewhat unsightly. But once the dust settles and the reality sets in, you have to wonder whether or not he might come to have doubts over the arrogant wisdom that has fostered his stroppiness.

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