Manchester United won’t win titles with Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester United broke the internet during the last couple days of the summer transfer window. When it seemed like it was all said and done and their rivals Manchester City were getting the former United winger Cristiano Ronaldo, the Red Devils got into the deal at the last second, hijacking it completely and adding the Portuguese star to their roster. While seeing Ronaldo wear the red shirt with the number 7 again must feel great for Manchester United fans, there is something that is not considered in the discussion – Ronaldo is not the ultimate solution for what United needs.
While returning a club legend is a great thing, Manchester United’s attack has not been the problem since the days of Louis Van Gaal. Under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Devils scored 73 goals last campaign, but the problem was a leaky defense that allowed 44 goals, the most in the top four. Of course, the defensive issues have been partly addressed with the Raphael Varane signing, but that is still not enough. Varane has been incredibly shaky for the Real Madrid backline, especially in important matches when Sergio Ramos was not next to him. Harry Maguire did make strides to become a better footballer over and a better leader, but it would be blasphemous to compare him to the Spanish great.
However, the true issues start in the middle of the park. Currently, the options for a holding midfielder for Solskjaer’s side are the underwhelming Fred and the 33-year-old Nemanja Matic, who is definitely past his prime and should not be an option for a side that is looking to contend in any relevant European league. It is also detrimental to the team that such a great potential, as is Donny Van Der Beek, is sitting on the bench without any playing time.
The rest of the midfield is also fairly poor, especially in comparison to the likes of City, where Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne are holding the line, or Chelsea, which has a plethora of options, from Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Saul Niguez, just to name a few. While names like Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes should definitely be up there, United’s midfield simply looks overmatched when facing any quality in the middle of the park.
Lastly, this signing, if Solskjaer is not planning to play Ronaldo on the wing like in his first stint in England, it will most likely hinder playing time for the young Mason Greenwood. The soon-to-be 20-year-old striker has already bagged three goals in this Premiership campaign, and will look to continue his scoring prowess while learning from arguably the best to have ever played. However, problems may arise when Edinson Cavani comes back from international duty and the subsequent quarantine process, since there will be a lot of attacking players with few positions to choose from for Manchester United.
In terms of attacking players, Manchester United will have at their disposal the aforementioned Greenwood, Ronaldo and Cavani. Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, another big signing that the Devils made this summer, will be waiting for their opportunity. Of course, Lingard and Sancho can play in the midfield and it still leaves a lot of options. Questions will be raised about which players will ultimately stay with Manchester United, and and which will be moved on from.
Overall, unfortunately for Manchester United fans, it is clearly seen that this squad is still not ready for a proper challenge for the title. The lack of consistency in the back, paired with a lack of noticeable quality in the middle, both generally and compared to the rivals in the league, and the over-dependency on the stacked final third of the team will most likely cause Manchester United to be in the title race but give up before it is decided. This will leave City, Chelsea and Liverpool to fight it out. Until the midfield specifically is addressed, this squad will be a top-four contender and more of a pretender in the Champions League. For a player of Cristiano Ronaldo’s magnitude, it truly is not good enough.