Cristiano Ronaldo made a sterling return to Manchester United but now that the party is over, it turns out that he's not really what the club needs.
This past summer, Manchester United became one of the most talked-about clubs in the sport after managing to pull off the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to the “Theatre of Dreams.” As expected, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner quickly made his mark on his former team by doing what he does best–scoring goals.
However, with the Red Devils not winning games despite having arguably the greatest player of all time on their squad, Manchester United had to sort things out. After more devastating defeats, the club figured it's about time for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the first-team manager, to go.
A glimmer of hope began surfacing with the arrival of interim manager Ralf Rangnick, a renowned coach best known for his expertise in the “gegenpressing” approach. Under Rangnick, Manchester United has won two English Premier League games. However, many, and even Rangnick himself believe that the club can still perform better given the amount of talent stacked in it.
With the problem with the management now addressed, rumors have now pointed to Ronaldo. Apparently, the Portuguese has not been the player everyone expected him to be, and it is becoming an issue within the club.
Overshadowing Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford
When Ronaldo rejoined Manchester United, it was a no-brainer that he will be overtaking the role of a center-forward. Many thought that the squad was already filled with an array of strikers but of course, who would say no to Ronaldo.
Soon, the narrative that Ronaldo's arrival will see a couple of Manchester Untied forwards' playing time being limited became accurate. Now, strikers Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are reportedly considering leaving the club for a chance to shine elsewhere.
Rashford and Greenwood are both linked to a switch to La Liga side Barcelona but the latter is also believed to be on the radar of Juventus and Arsenal.
Pressing too much
As a center-forward, let alone his ability to score goals, Ronaldo is expected to do a lot of pressing. Rangnick made it known early on that he's not gonna be barging in and force his players to adapt to his style. Instead, it's the other way around.
“You always have to adapt your style or your idea of football to the players you have available, not vice versa,” Rangnick said after seeing Ronaldo play for Manchester United via ESPN. “At his age, I've never seen a player who is still that physically fit. He's still a player who can easily make the difference. So yes, it's about how we can develop the whole team, not only Cristiano.”
“We play in the most competitive league in the world, so we need all the players on board,” he added. “What I saw from Cristiano, he is more than willing to do that, to put his input into the team. His teammates will have to do the same.”
With Ronaldo up in the front, things are good. However, some believe that if the ball will be spread out and other forwards will spare the 36-year-old from pressing all game long, things will be a lot better.
“We need to get away from this ‘Ronaldo pressing here, Ronaldo pressing there',” former Manchester United player Paul Ince recently said via The Mirror Football. “Ronaldo is 36 years of age, he still has a great physique but you can't ask him to press from one centre-half to another.”
“If he did that when he gets the ball, he would be too knackered to do anything,” he assessed. “Yes, Rangnick has a pressing philosophy that he's used wherever he has been. But he now has the best player in the world. Ronaldo doesn't want to spend 90 minutes pressing.”
Hindering Bruno Fernandes
Prior to Ronaldo's return, Bruno Fernandes was the focal point of Manchester United's attack. He and Ronaldo have been pals and have get along well on and off the pitch. All these are normal given they are both from Portugal.
However, some reckoned that it couldn't be a coincident that Fernandes' form declined since Ronaldo came in. If former Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen is right, Fernandes has been too focused on passing the ball to his compatriot and became less effective in playing his role in the process.
“It’s as if Fernandes was always looking for Cristiano Ronaldo,” the pundit told news outlet MBL via the Daily Express. “Nine out of 10 times, he tries to find Ronaldo and if this doesn’t work, he gets impatient and begins to try very difficult things. Bearing in mind the way he [Fernandes] began at United, we want to see much more of him.”