Man United fans all across the globe couldn’t believe their eyes when the epic return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford was announced.
Everyone was left licking his lips – from neutral football lovers to punters enjoying the fascinating odds from bookmakers on Liontips.com — anticipating the Portuguese wizard to champion Man United’s resurrection back to their epic throne. Indeed, the throne they lost after the glorious days of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ronaldo is the Miracle Man in an unbalanced team
Of course, you wouldn’t expect less of a proven football icon. You don’t amass the impregnable five Ballon d’Ors Ronaldo has, and don’t expect people to demand miracles of you.
Well, it appears the miracle of delivering Man United back to its imperial perch seems too “miraculous” to ask of Cristiano Ronaldo. Not that he has performed too badly. He has dished Man United nine goals – a huge fraction of them game-saving goals that won them critical points.
But a forensic examination of Man United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reveals a worrisomely unbalanced team.
Man United’s attack screams “Elon Musk”. Yes, that is how wealthy it is, boasting the luxurious likes of Bruno Fernandes, Jordan Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, and the 5-star Cristiano Ronaldo.
It would take more than Albert Einstein’s intelligence to create balance in such a team. How can you squeeze all those beautiful football brains into one team?
Illnesses in Man United’s midfield and defence are constantly exposed
The disproportionate gulf in quality between the attack and the midfield is demonstrated in matches where the front line is systematically isolated from the midfield, making Ronaldo and his cohorts (if not accomplices) passengers in most phases of the game.
As seen in Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola’s team, wealth becomes poverty when it is not evenly distributed. In the teams mentioned above (Liverpool and Man City), you see a more egalitarian distribution of talents, with their defences and attacks almost as robust and formidable as their frontlines.
In the 5-0 demolition of Man United by Liverpool and consequent embarrassment of the Red Devils at the hands of Man City, we saw Man United being thoroughly outclassed in the midfield or being disrupted in the defence. This effectively shut off the supply to the likes of Ronaldo upfront.
Teams win games now – NOT INDIVIDUALS!
But wait, let us talk about Ronaldo for a moment. Many legends of the game have classified him as a luxury problem for Ole Solskjaer. But if we keep the sentiments aside, is Ronaldo not really a luxury problem?
Successful teams in the contemporary Premier League landscape are increasingly tilted towards communal excellence than individual brilliance. The likes of Liverpool and Man City effectively have no kingpin.
It is a comprehensive – but outstandingly intelligent – assemblage of several units accumulating into a formidable bunch. From defence to attack in Liverpool and Man City, you see just above-average individuals blending into one almost unstoppable team on collective strength.
You don’t have that in Man United. When the chips are down, almost everyone abandons their self-belief and goes crying to Cristiano Ronaldo to pull one more magic from his bottomless wizardry box.
Sometimes he has. But more often than not, he hasn’t.
Ronaldo is not young anymore
There is something even more problematic about the second coming of Ronaldo to Ronaldo. The 2021 Cristiano Ronaldo is no doubt a proven winner with an overwhelming portfolio of the grandest successes.
Goals, YES. He will pour the goals on you. But when he is not scoring, Ronaldo can be a massive handicap on any modern team – especially in the Premier League, a league famed for ferocity and physicality.
Ronaldo is a mammoth box of experience and confidence – but he is critically starved of youth. At 36, Ronaldo doesn’t have the physicality for tireless running upfront, pressing and hassling the opponent’s defence.
No, he can’t. And rightly said, he has paid the dues that should exonerate from such inglorious expeditions.
Therefore, what you have is an almost toothless Man United attack when the opposition has the ball.
How long can Man United and Ole put up with this beautiful problem?