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The Ronaldo dilemma: Is he to blame?

Cristiano Ronaldo was named Premier League participant of the month for April. He’d scored 5 objectives in 4 video games, together with a hat-trick.

However throughout that month, Manchester United gained only one match out of six, scrabbling to a 3-2 victory at dwelling to backside membership Norwich because of Ronaldo’s treble. They had been outclassed at Liverpool and crushed comfortably at Arsenal of their subsequent two video games.

Ronaldo was additionally named within the Premier League staff of the 12 months. Tottenham’s Heung-min Son, who did not make the lower, might have scored 5 extra objectives however Ronaldo’s 18 strikes gained 14 factors for his staff, greater than every other participant. His whole objectives 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 staff floundered, Ronaldo – at 37, we should not neglect – nonetheless discovered a solution to make his mark.

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Watch all 18 of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Premier League objectives for Man Utd from the 2021/22 season.

Typically these moments got here when United had been on their knees.

The decisive late objectives within the Champions League towards Villarreal and Atalanta (twice) when his staff flirted with a bunch stage exit. A person-of-the-match efficiency at Tottenham after a 5-0 drubbing at dwelling to Liverpool. A hat-trick towards Spurs on the again of a 4-1 thrashing at Man Metropolis. A one hundredth Premier League objective in a 3-1 defeat on the Emirates when United missed a penalty Ronaldo handed up.

Points won with goals
Picture: No participant gained extra factors for his or her facet with their objectives within the Premier League final season than Ronaldo

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 hunch from second in 2020/21 was attributable to the disruption of Ronaldo’s return. That the hysteria and document 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 achievement which had emerged underneath Ole Gunnar Solskjaer muddled by the necessity to accommodate a participant who cannot press in a means which the trendy sport calls for.

And except for the technical limitations, a participant whose dramatic demonstrations of frustration set a damaging tone.

However on the opposite facet of the coin, Ronaldo delivered what he mentioned he would: objectives. For the sixteenth season in a row he was his membership’s prime scorer.

Man Utd top scorers
Picture: Ronaldo scored greater than twice as many objectives as any of his team-mates

His type of play was no secret final summer time. Is it not then the job of a supervisor to maximise these abilities for the larger good of the staff? Can it’s that arduous to discover a means of {playing} with one of many biggest 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 may have been so much worse had David de Gea not discovered high quality kind behind a shambolic defence.

They scored extra objectives and earned extra factors with Ronaldo within the staff. They gained simply two of the eight video games he missed within the Premier League.

Man Utd with and without Cristiano Ronaldo
Picture: United gained simply two of the eight video games they performed with out Ronaldo

Over in Italy, Juventus’ fourth place and trophyless 2021/22 suggests their very own issues go additional than ‘{playing} worse with Ronaldo within the staff’. That was the road when back-to-back title wins had been adopted by fourth place and an Italian Cup triumph in Ronaldo’s third and last marketing campaign there.

Juve averaged 74 objectives 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 either side is guilty.

United and Juventus are paying the value for years of poor recruitment, shifting supervisor kinds and failing to capitalise on the benefits their historical past affords them. Their play and plans had been altered to accommodate Ronaldo however whereas in moments it paid off, definitely within the case of United, the numerous outlay hasn’t delivered the required returns.

There might be frustration that the fun of his two-goal comeback efficiency towards Newcastle at Outdated Trafford in September hasn’t confirmed to be the catalyst for United to kick on and recapture their former glories. Targets, glamour and international media consideration have not translated to silverware.

Maybe the seasons to come back underneath Erik ten Hag will assist us higher quantify Ronaldo’s position in United’s 12 months to neglect.

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