The Portugal coach accepts that his side are in a difficult situation following their heavy defeat to Germany, but insists the team, and not just Ronaldo, will get them through
By Sam Lee at the Arena da Amazonia
Portugal coach Paulo Bento says he is not relying on Cristiano Ronaldo to get his team out of the mire in Group G.
The Seleccao will be eliminated from the World Cup if they lose to the United States on Sunday, but Bento says he told Ronaldo from the outset of his reign that he would never put more pressure on his shoulders.
“I said it once when I arrived here [as Portugal boss]. In October 2010 I told him once and that’s it. I would never put it on his shoulders, or anybody else’s, to solve our problems.
“It is down to me. The players have the collective responsibility of playing. I do not put pressure on him, I would never put on his shoulders the responsibility of solving our problems.
“We have to have a team that is sure of itself and control all the game situations – because they are playing in a difficult situation with the humidity and heat – and if we think that we can solve our problems only with the best player in the world that would be a mistake.
“What brought us here is obviously that we have the best player, but we have the players that support him, in the qualifiers, the play-off and at Euro 2012.
“We know that there are difficulties but we will not rely on one or two players, otherwise we will start packing our suitcases and go home.”
Midfielder Raul Meireles backed up the message from his coach, insisting that Ronaldo is ready to play but that the rest of the squad are not relying on him.
“Cristiano is always competing to be the best,” he said. “Those who know Cristiano know this, we don’t expect anything more from him, we just want him and the other players to do their best. We always work together as a team to win the games.
“I think it’s normal that everybody talks about him. We have the best player in the world and people talk about him. We are used to it and it makes us feel very proud that people pay so much attention to him.”