Ronaldo could be the key to top 4 hopes – but only this season


It must have been difficult for a man who has spent much of the past decade in strategic and long-term thinking to avoid such thinking in favor of the here and now, but Ralf Rangnick knows the original work. His head was taken to Manchester United to work and knew the consequences for the club if he faltered.

o wonder, then, that United’s interim manager has been reluctant to discuss what will happen at the end of this season with Cristiano Ronaldo, when his focus is on trying to get enough goals and performances perform well before May to secure next season’s Champions League spot and its riches.

However, for United’s director of football John Murtough and chief executive Richard Arnold, Ronaldo’s hat-trick in a dramatic 3-2 win over Tottenham should have done nothing but solidify love. The club must sign a top-class striker this summer.

The match was a reminder of the difference Ronaldo can make, just as two months earlier highlighted the problems United face in front of goal if the 37-year-old fails to score and uses too much. a lot of.

If Ronaldo remains at Old Trafford next season, as he predicts, long-term replacement Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have a job in his hands managing the minutes of an aging superstar with a hefty salary. , who always wanted to play ball.

But if there is a quality substitute that is scoring regularly, Ronaldo may have less to complain about when he is not starting and similarly, his legs can be better preserved and his efficiency. it is optimized. Handled carefully, it can be win-win.

For now, Rangnick not only has few viable alternatives besides holding the title of World Player of the Year five times, but Ronaldo himself also has to look at the form and availability of other strikers in the game. team and asked for a good reason why he was like that. not always the first choice.

Marcus Rashford is in the worst form of his career and mulling over his future at Old Trafford, Edinson Cavani hasn’t been featured since 12 February before being introduced for the final 10 minutes of the game against Spurs, Mason Greenwood’s situation means he is unavailable to choose from and Anthony Martial is on loan at Sevilla. It’s Ronaldo or bankruptcy when everything is stable.

Fred shines in his Brazilian role

Rangnick described Fred’s performance against Tottenham as his best since the interim manager arrived at the club at the end of November and can doubt that there is a better performance from a midfielder. of United this season. It’s no surprise that Fred’s most successful display in the red came when he was deployed at No. 8 in a style that he captured so well for Brazil.

“McFred” – the nickname given to Fred and Scott McTominay – has become a catchphrase for the mediocrity of United’s midfield as it frequently overlooks several key issues: first, neither of them are is a natural ball-holding midfielder and both are much more adept at box-and-shoulder tackles; second, it’s not their fault that they are having to compromise for the team’s repeated failures to sign a defensive midfielder with a pedigree; and in the end they often have to do double footwork or left teamfight because Paul Pogba around carefree or Bruno Fernandes, when he doesn’t concede in dangerous areas, can compromise structure structure midfield by loopholes in will.

McTominay missed Tottenham with a calf complaint and is a doubt for tomorrow’s match against Atletico Madrid, which could give Rangnick a headache as he cannot rely on Pogba to fit in the team. silhouette of Diego Simeone. Fernandes is also a doubt after missing the win over Spurs with Covid.

Sancho compromises to cover up Rashford’s decline

It wasn’t Jadon Sancho’s perfect match. He was conceded by Dejan Kulusevski in a situation that helped Tottenham win a penalty and conceded cheaply in the second half from which Son Heung-min should have done better with the chance he had.

But all of United’s best attacks fell on whichever side Sancho was patrolling while on the other, Rashford once again cut off a peripheral image.

There is a gulf between what Rashford and Sancho are bringing.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021] Ronaldo could be the key to top 4 hopes – but only this season

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