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Ronaldo, Tantrums & Signposts

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

It’s been a challenging game against the tigerish battlers: Brentford. Manchester United are away from home, 2-0 up and facing a likely aerial bombardment in the remaining minutes. Following a capitulation at the same stage and scoreline a few days earlier versus Aston Villa, the Manager Ragniek makes a decision. He brings on centre back Maguire to make it 3 central defenders, and the fast Marcus Rashford out wide for breakaways. Centre forward Ronaldo makes way. The Coach doesn’t want the same result as Villa; he wants to lock in the win.

Ronaldo, unhappy at being withdrawn, which is a rare event for one of the worlds greatest ever players, visibly shows his destain for the decision; throwing his jacket on the ground; shaking his head and muttering why me? for all to see.

Football is a passionate game; it takes players, coaches and fans to the edge of emotional control and sometimes beyond. These emotional outbursts are rare when things are going well. If you are scoring goals, creating goals, receiving the plaudits of peers, fans and knowing inside that you are on form, being taken off at 2-0 up and 70 minutes gone, for the good of the team, wouldn’t be an issue. However I sense that the opposite is the case for Ronaldo. Apart from the excellent chest assist for the second goal, he hadn’t featured as a dangerous player in the game. He wouldn’t have felt he had played his best football; he hadn’t scored and that’s something that would not sit well for someone so competitive and driven.


Ronaldo is not the player he was. He doesn’t have that electrifying, ruthless power and pace that was almost unstoppable. He does have the smarts of course to sniff out a goal in the box and can link up play. However he must be feeling that sense of frustration in not doing the things he could once do, particularly in a team that has been struggling to find form. This is where the jacket throwing, the public display of frustration stems from. It’s a frustration with himself more than with the Coach and his decision.

The question is: How does this effect the team, the culture, the ethos, the morale, if at all?

Football as a team sport is fascinating in how the players in the same team/squad not only compete against the opposing teams, but also against each other to secure a place in the team. With that in mind, seeing your 36 year old legendary veteran storming off in a strop because he’s been substituted, will I suggest, be seen in a few different lights by the players:

1) If that’s my position and he’s in it, I’m inwardly smiling, because I know he’s frustrated and unhappy. I’m going to show the coach what I can do. I’ll be extra determined. If I can create, score goals and be more dangerous to the opposition, he’ll have to select me. I can be first choice.

  1. The player may use the anger as motivational fuel, and become an even more fearsome competitor for the position. If so, I’ll need to ramp up my performances in training and games to compete for the place.

  2. It has no impact at all. Players look at the legend and go “he can do what he wants, he’s Ronaldo”; I’m interested in my own battles, my own goals, my own ‘how do I play well and impress‘.

In my own professional playing days , there were tantrums, rows, slagging matches, on an almost daily basis; with the occasional fist fight, thrown in for good measure. I’ll never forget our 6 foot + Premier league Manager, having a full on, swinging windmill punches, scrap with our 6 foot + Centre half. Little me was almost caught in the middle. It was like watching the giant King Kong and Godzilla going at it. The manager had to go on tv that night for an interview, a stitches covering plaster nicely adorned above his eyebrow.

Advice for young players

We are all focused on our own game, our own impact. How do I impress to be selected? What does the Coach think of me? Why have I been substituted? etc. In Professional football, it’s a jungle of competitiveness. You have to be strong, confident and determined to compete. One of the hardest things is not knowing where you stand, why decisions are made around you. You may be shy to ask, too worried to hear an answer you don’t like if you ask.

Knowing is better than not knowing. You need guidance. A Coach will have a squad of players that they are managing, not just you. They will be thinking about their position, their results, their training sessions, matches, media, handling players etc. So if you can, it’s brilliant if you can consistently check in with them, with 3 simple questions.

1) Hey coach have you got a minute?

2) How am I doing and

3) what do I need to work on?

This does a number of things:

  • It show the coach that you want to improve and succeed

  • You gain an understanding good, bad or indifferent of where you stand

  • You’ll learn what you’ll need to do to be more valuable to the Coach and team

  • You will be highly visible to the Coach. Yes that’s right! He will see you more. He will be watching for those improvements you’ve talked through.

Go try it after your next training session, and then do it every few weeks. Don’t be shy, stick your chest out.

Don’t be left in limbo

At the age of 20, I recall a 1st team game where I was in the squad to play against Arsenal and despite playing really well in training wasn’t selected. I did the above with the Boss at the time, Ray Harford, following the next training session. He said “sure Aaron“ and we sat on a wall by the pitch side terraces. He explained I was doing really well, that he’d selected our brilliant 1st team winger Kingsley black although he was carrying a knock but in hindsight it was a mistake and he should have played me. He then said I’d be playing and making my debut in one of the upcoming games. He gave me a pat on the head and said well done! I felt great and went on to make my debut! If I hadn’t plucked up the courage and asked him, I’d have been left in limbo; I may not have been considered.

Think of your Coach as someone who can point you in a direction, show you where you need to be heading, just like signposts to a destination when you are travelling, Good luck on your journey!


The use of video with a Coach review is fantastic in honing skill and performance.

In our One2Pro online coaching app, 'techniques of the stars' are broken down step by step for our players to follow and practice, with the difference being to other apps, that you get to work with an actual coach who will guide you through the program.

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Be The One!

Aaron Tighe

Founder One2Pro

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