From the outset, I should say that Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent behaviour is totally unacceptable. Showing respect to your team-mates, your manager and your club’s supporters are amongst the fundamentals in football and to refuse to come on as a substitute, as Erik ten Hag has confirmed, and retreat to the dressing room with a game still in progress takes a flamethrower to one of the primary dressing room codes.

In a team game, where the basic principle is that you’re all in it together win or lose, such a display of selfishness and petulance is desperately unprofessional and it’s right that Ronaldo should be disciplined by Manchester United because of it. His was a terrible example to set and it’s a shame that instead of reflecting on their best performance of the season against Tottenham Hotspur, Ten Hag has been forced to talk about someone who only figured on the periphery.

Having said all that, I do think it’s important to examine the nuances of Ronaldo’s situation and to try and look at it from his perspective, in terms of who and what he is and what he’s been through. He’s one of the biggest names the game has ever seen, a marvel for two decades, always the first name on the team sheet and the big-stage player who can reliably be called upon as a saviour, to win the game.

Even in the context of Manchester United, his numbers remain ridiculously good. His 24 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions last season for what was a poor team by their standards tells you that he carried them, more or less. Can he still finish? Obviously, he can. Is he in great shape? Absolutely, he’s a physical specimen. Could he play for 90 minutes? Yeah, he could, and I don’t have any doubt that he would still get into a majority of Premier League sides.

And so I understand Ronaldo’s anger and frustration, because being the best is all he’s known. He’s been the main man, the focal point, the trophy-laden superstar, one of the best players in the world, if not the best, and now for the first time in his career, he has a manager telling him he’s no longer integral, that he can’t do something, instead of looking to him to make the impossible seem routine.

I get that his conduct looks bad — and it is bad — but the context in Ronaldo’s case is how unprecedented it must feel to be normal. How strange it must seem to be on the same planet as everybody else, when you hold yourself to the highest standards of performance. When you’re a force of nature and your force is blocked.

We shouldn’t forget, too, that the World Cup will be high on Ronaldo’s personal agenda and that, as usual, Portugal will be expecting him to produce, that he needs to be fresh and playing. It must be difficult to have that on the horizon while knowing to the core of your being that in different circumstances you would still be banging in goals. I don’t condone the way he’s acted, but I do think there’s some mitigation.