Cristiano Ronaldo was named Premier League participant of the month for April. He’d scored 5 targets in 4 video games, together with a hat-trick.
However throughout that month, Manchester United received only one match out of six, scrabbling to a 3-2 victory at dwelling to backside membership Norwich due to Ronaldo’s treble. They have been outclassed at Liverpool and crushed comfortably at Arsenal of their subsequent two video games.
Ronaldo was additionally named within the Premier League group of the yr. Tottenham’s Heung-min Son, who did not make the minimize, could have scored 5 extra targets however Ronaldo’s 18 strikes received 14 factors for his group, greater than some other participant. His complete targets throughout all competitions was 24, greater than double his next-best team-mate Bruno Fernandes who scored 10.
United ended the season with back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Crystal Palace. Sixth and trophyless. It was their worst league efficiency in 32 years.
Whereas his group floundered, Ronaldo – at 37, we should not overlook – nonetheless discovered a strategy to make his mark.
Usually these moments got here when United have been on their knees.
The decisive late targets within the Champions League towards Villarreal and Atalanta (twice) when his group flirted with a gaggle stage exit. A person-of-the-match efficiency at Tottenham after a 5-Zero drubbing at dwelling to Liverpool. A hat-trick towards Spurs on the again of a 4-1 thrashing at Man Metropolis. A 100th Premier League objective in a 3-1 defeat on the Emirates when United missed a penalty Ronaldo handed up.
The person and the collective. That is the Ronaldo dilemma. Do the 2 sit individually or are they straight associated? His request for a United exit to chase his Champions League dream underlines the scenario.
His critics will say that United’s stoop from second in 2020/21 was attributable to the disruption of Ronaldo’s return. That the hysteria and report shirt gross sales within the wake of his signing solely proved to be a celebration of a spanner being slammed into the works.
United’s pacey assault blunted. Their younger stars shifted to the fringes. A system for fulfillment which had emerged below Ole Gunnar Solskjaer muddled by the necessity to accommodate a participant who cannot press in a method which the trendy sport calls for.
And except for the technical limitations, a participant whose dramatic demonstrations of frustration set a adverse tone.
However on the opposite facet of the coin, Ronaldo delivered what he mentioned he would: targets. For the 16th season in a row he was his membership’s prime scorer.
His fashion of play was no secret final summer season. Is it not then the job of a supervisor to maximise these abilities for the better good of the group? Can it’s that onerous to discover a method of enjoying with one of many best gamers of all time?
Ronaldo did not return to United to lose at Younger Boys or be embarrassed by rival Premier League sides. And to counsel he was the only real cause for a disastrous season is past a stretch. This can be a United facet with many points to resolve as interim boss Ralf Rangnick came upon. On the again, it might have been loads worse had David de Gea not discovered fantastic kind behind a shambolic defence.
They scored extra targets and earned extra factors with Ronaldo within the group. They received simply two of the eight video games he missed within the Premier League.
Over in Italy, Juventus’ fourth place and trophyless 2021/22 suggests their very own issues go additional than ‘enjoying worse with Ronaldo within the group’. That was the road when back-to-back title wins have been adopted by fourth place and an Italian Cup triumph in Ronaldo’s third and closing marketing campaign there.
Juve averaged 74 targets per season in Serie A throughout Ronaldo’s keep. Twelve down on the season earlier than he arrived however 17 greater than they managed final time period with out him.
Who’s at fault? The person or the collective? After all, like all of this stuff, it is a mixture of each. The argument is how a lot all sides is in charge.
United and Juventus are paying the worth for years of poor recruitment, shifting supervisor types and failing to capitalise on the benefits their historical past affords them. Their play and plans have been altered to accommodate Ronaldo however whereas in moments it paid off, definitely within the case of United, the numerous outlay did not ship the required returns.
There will likely be frustration that the fun of his two-goal comeback efficiency towards Newcastle at Previous Trafford in September did not show to be the catalyst for United to kick on and recapture their former glories. Objectives, glamour and world media consideration did not translate to silverware.
Is he in charge? That is the Ronaldo dilemma.
Maybe the seasons to return below Erik ten Hag will assist us higher quantify Ronaldo’s function in United’s yr to overlook.
However he leaves United along with his legendary standing nonetheless in tact and in pursuit of extra honours to reinforce his legacy. United’s personal pursuit of success should go on with out him.
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