Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo's Manchester United departure gives Burnley one less thing to worry about ahead of Carabao Cup tie — says Johann Berg Gudmundsson
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The Portuguese international left under a cloud as the World Cup in Qatar got under way, bringing his controversial second spell at the Theatre of Dreams to an end after just 15 months.
The 37-year-old, considered one of the greatest players of all time, made 344 appearances for the Red Devils in total across all competitions, netting 144 times across the board.
However, the five-time Ballon d'Or recipient stained his legacy following an explosive and no-holds-barred interview with controversial broadcaster Piers Morgan.
Gudmundsson, who lifted the Baltic Cup when returning to international duty with Iceland, accepts that the superstar's absence will save him a headache, though he appreciates that it'll be a bit of a blow for the Clarets' young guns.
The winger, who has played against Ronaldo and World Cup winner Lionel Messi during his career, said: “Not for me, I’ve played against him a few times, but I reckon a few of the young lads will definitely be a bit sad to not have him on the pitch.
“He’s been a fantastic player, but he’s gone and I think Man Utd fans have moved on from that to be fair.
“It’s less of a problem for us because he can still be extremely dangerous in the box, so yeah, it's a good thing for us."
He added: “We don’t have to worry about him. You want to play against the best players in the world and a few of the lads just missed him.
“He’s on a different level to every footballer. He’s the most-influential player in the world. Wherever he goes, there’s going to be a massive buzz.
"But it’s less of a problem now for us because he’s gone and he can enjoy his football somewhere else.”
Gudmundsson had been unbeaten at Old Trafford for the Clarets until the club suffered successive 3-1 defeats at the iconic stadium last year.
The 32-year-old is determined to revisit next season as a Premier League player but, for now, he's looking forward to seeing what they can do against their Carabao Cup opponents.
With a place in the quarter final of the competition at stake, he said: "That's the aim; we want to get back to the Premier League so it'll be good to come up against a team as good as Manchester United and show what we're about.
"Hopefully, if we show ourselves as we have done in the last few games, it'll be a tough game for them. We know their strengths and every single player needs to be on their 'A' game, which will give us a good chance on Wednesday.
"Manchester United is a big club, Old Trafford is a big stadium, so it can be quite frightening to go there when they're at the top of their game. It's going to be an experience for them because you don't come across these stadiums in the Championship."
He concluded: "I think it's too early to speculate about that [United as a yardstick for next season]. It's way too early, it's only halfway through the Championship season, there's a lot of things that can happen because it's a mad league. We'll just take this game as a little bonus for this season.
"Where we want to go, this is the first step to show these players what level we need to be at if we're to play in the Premier League and if you want to stay in it. There is a big gap!"