Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Ben Husband

Al-Nassr fans emphatically pick sides after manager criticised Cristiano Ronaldo

Al-Nassr fans are piling the pressure on manager Rudi Garcia after they failed to win for the second time in succession.

The Frenchman was appointed as head coach of the Saudi giants in June of last year and is still in his first season in charge. He has guided Al-Nassr to the top of the Pro League, but fans understandably expected a stark improvement in performance in recent weeks.

That was due to the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, who stunned the footballing world by leaving Europe after his Manchester United exit was confirmed. The 37-year-old was expected to dominate what is a significantly weaker league than he has previously played in.

However, under Garcia, Ronaldo failed to score in his opening two appearances, with his second coming in their Saudi State Cup exit to Al-Ittihad last week. Following that defeat, Garcia levelled some criticism at the Portuguese superstar and said there were issues that needed to be ironed out.

"One of the things that changed the course of the match was Cristiano's missed opportunity in the first half," the boss assessed after the game.

He added: “It is very important that the players play normally and don't always try to give Cristiano the ball. I told them they had to make the right decisions on the pitch. Obviously, when Cristiano or Anderson Talisca are alone and ask for the ball, we have to give them the ball. These two players are capable of making a difference.

“I think sometimes we had good crossing positions, but there were not enough people in the box, sometimes not Ronaldo or Talisca. We have to work on it, have one of them in the area and maybe the other will play outside the area.”

Al-Nassr boss Rudi Garcia is facing criticism after another poor result (Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)

But despite Garcia’s frank assessment, Al-Nassr struggled again against Al-Fateh on Friday night, falling behind twice in the 2-2 draw. Ronaldo looked set to endure another frustrating afternoon, after having a goal disallowed, missing another gilt-edged chance and hitting the crossbar.

But with the game into added-on time, he was given a golden opportunity to open his account when Al-Nassr were awarded a penalty. Anderson Talisca, who scored and was later sent off, held the ball and appeared to be ready to take the spot-kick, before Ronaldo took over responsibilities.

And he coolly took his chance to score his first competitive goal for the club, posting on social media after the full-time whistle: “Happy to have scored my first goal in the Saudi league and great effort by whole team to achieve an important draw in a very difficult match!”

Garcia also said how happy he was for Ronaldo to score his first goal, but fans on social media were more focused on the coach’s own performance. One supporter said: "You're not doing anything, Tali saves you in every match, and now he is out. Let's see how you will save yourself without him on the next one! DO YOUR WORK"

Another posted: "Dear coach, the team level continues to go downhill , it is very obvious that the players are under tremendous pressure . We all see that when players passing the ball to each other. You need to do something about this."

And others agreed, tweeting: "The team suffers very strongly with you! Without solutions! Without identity! Without personality! Each match starts with a different combination from the one before it Rudy, you're not solutions, the team is very bad!!"

A fourth succinctly shouted: "LEAVE, WE DON’T WANT YOU!" Before a fourth replied: "Like in the Arab Super Cup Rudi Garcia gave away the game."

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.