Cristiano Ronaldo has been on fire at Manchester United since returning to the club, but their form hasn’t matched his personal performances, and Gary Neville think he may know why
Manchester United treated fans to the dream reunion this summer as Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford against all the odds, after a 12-year spell away from the club.
United announced on Deadline Day that Ronaldo would be returning to the club, and the 36-year-old announced his homecoming in style as he scored twice on his second debut during a 4-1 win against Newcastle.
Since then though, the mood at United has changed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have only won two out of their last six in all competitions, despite Ronaldo continuing his goalscoring form.
However, although delighted that his former teammate returned to Old Trafford this summer, Gary Neville isn’t surprised that there is a “problem” now that Ronaldo is back.
Neville spent his whole career at United, and was in the side when Ronaldo originally signed in 2003, before watching the Portuguese star grow into one of the greatest players of all time.
Although Neville barely has a bad word to say about Ronaldo, he has revealed that there are some drawbacks that come with facilitating the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Neville spoke during the latest edition of The Overlap about his experiences playing with Ronaldo during his first stint at United, and how his style of play may be affecting the current team dynamic under Solskjaer.
The former United captain said: “With it comes big positives, but with it also comes problems. Ronaldo had to be managed shall we say…
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“In the 2008 Barcelona semi-final away from home, Cristiano Ronaldo was shoved up front on his own, and Rooney and Ji-Sung Park were shoved wide, and Tevez was brought back to [mark] Busquests.
“You couldn’t carry him in the big games because he generally doesn’t work hard enough.
“So he’s playing up front now – you’re never going to press from the front. So the idea that Manchester United can become a pressing team with Cristiano up front is never going to happen. He wasn’t pressing 10-15 years ago.
“So what you say then is, ‘what’s the style of Manchester United?’, well they’re a counter-attack team.
“That becomes difficult when you’re playing against teams that are inferior to you most of the time. So what you get is teams like Aston Villa and Everton counter-attacking.
“A half-decent team against Manchester United will cut through them. That’s a problem, they’ve got to stop that.”
United failed to beat both Villa and Everton during their last two home Premier League matches, taking just one point from a possible six as pressure has started to mount on Solskjaer.
Ronaldo though, continues to be in red-hot form after scoring four goals for Portugal during the international break, and will need to continue his prolific run as United face a difficult period of games through October.
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