Cristiano Ronaldo Is No Longer the Needed In Man United
The data shows that Manchester United is better when Cristiano Ronaldo is not playing. This is not something that the Portuguese accept easily. Still, it’s hard to be Superman without Superman’s powers
Alex Ferguson, his coach at Manchester United and the one who brought him to Old Trafford, is not an issue. The two got into a confrontation on a professional basis in the dressing room and in the end Beckham was left with a scar above his eye following a soccer shoe kicked at him by the Scottish manager.
At the end of that season, Beckham left and a decade later, Ferguson published in his autobiography why he had to let go of the talented midfielder. “Beckham thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson, from Manchester United – I have no doubt about that,” Ferguson said. “David is the only player I coached who chose to be famous, who made it his mission to be known outside of the game.”
Although Beckham was an essential player in Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, Alex Ferguson’s team changed and at the end of the process led by the Scottish coach, won the European Championship with the most famous footballer in the world today – Cristiano Ronaldo.
Even today, to move forward to a positive place, Manchester United will have to let go of the most famous player in the world.
Last week, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag promised there would be “consequences” for Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Old Trafford before the end of Manchester United’s impressive game against Tottenham.
The Walk Off the Pitch And the End Result For Ronaldo
Ronaldo, surly knew what the effect of his early departure off the pitch – with the eyes of the whole world on him – would do to the conversation about the game.
Instead of talking about the success of his teammates, they talked about his rage and anger. Ronaldo was angry that he did not come on as a substitute earlier in the game and, as mentioned, disappeared before the final whistle.
This was the second time that Ronaldo acted in such a passive-aggressive manner as a response to a decision by the Dutch coach. He also did it in a friendly match against Rayo and Ikeno last summer.
In both cases, Erik Ten Hag punished Ronaldo, and he was “separated” from the squad. “I’m the manager, I’m responsible for the sports culture here, and there are standards and values that I have to control,” he explained.
“Already after Rayo Vallecano, I told him this was unacceptable, so there would be consequences.”
Ten Brother has received quite a few criticisms for his “attitude” towards Cristiano Ronaldo – the only player in history with 700+ goals for his teams and one of the most historical players.
But Ten Hag explained that “football is a team sport, players and there are behavioural standards that help us live together”.
This February, Cristiano Ronaldo will be 38, and although he seems to have more to sell at the high level of football, it seems that he will not get another chance in a big team.
In the summer, Ronaldo’s agent, George Mendes, offered his client to many of the Champions League teams – Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Napoli and even Sporting Lisbon.
The teams’ professionals rejected the possibility of adding Ronaldo, and the only team that conducted actual negotiations on and with the player was Todd Bohly’s Chelsea, not a football man but a financier. Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea’s manager at the time, refused to sign Ronaldo and apparently paid for it with his work.
So why was Ronaldo – one of the greatest footballers of all time – out of the question for senior teams? First, it requires a great deal of money that the clubs do not think he can justify. However, perhaps the main problem is that teams need to adapt to Ronaldo instead of Ronaldo adapting to the team. This is not a new matter – but at the age of 38, there is no professional benefit in adapting the team to Ronaldo.
Already as a young player, Manchester United adapted themselves to Cristiano Ronaldo – and it worked superbly for her. Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and Park Ji-sung needed to cover a lot more miles than the young Ronaldo for the lineup built on flexibility in attack and pressure in defence to work. And it worked fine – largely thanks to the team and human dynamics.
At Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo has developed into the greatest scorer of all time with a team that has been tailor-made to serve his incredible scoring abilities – a brilliant and clever striker like Karim Benzema, fantastic passers such as Luka Modric and Mesut Özil and a diligent and aggressive squad, where placed in such a way to get the full potential from the super striker.
Despite his historic status in the white uniform of Real Madrid, the club decided that it was possible to move forward without him – and so it was. Ronaldo moved to Juventus in the summer of 2018. Juve won the Italian championship in 2017/18 with 95 points and 86 goals. In Ronaldo’s first season in Torino, the team won 90 points and scored 70 goals. Cristiano Ronaldo was the top scorer with 21 league goals.
In the following season, the trend became even clearer. Ronaldo wants the ball in his legs, as close as possible to the opponent’s goal and he also wants to kick a lot of opportunities for the goal. He seems to care less about the quality of the opportunity, the spacing of the game or the positions of his colleagues – if he saw half an opportunity to score, he took it. In 2018/19, he was responsible for 28% of Juventus’ kicks per goal – far more than anyone else in the squad.
The year after, Juventus finished with 76 goals, a modest ascent, and 83 points – a significant decline – just a point above the champions of the year after – Inter Milan. Moreover, the advanced data shows that while Ronaldo was responsible for 25%+ of his Italian team’s goal kicks, he also had the lowest ratio of defensive pressure of any Serie A forward player.
Paulo Dybala, Ronaldo’s partner in the attack – pressed 2 times more than the Portuguese.
Leonardo Bonucci, the Juventus defender, explained that Ronaldo is a true professional but with him on the pitch “players started to feel that he was enough to win games and we faded a bit when it came to day-to-day work, modesty, sacrifice, the desire to be there for your teammate day after day.”
Ronaldo is Scoring in High Numbers- His Team a Bit Less
The move to Manchester United underlined Ronaldo’s incompatibility with football that is now required for victories – football based on collective pressure and the defensive work of everyone on the pitch.
In 2020/21, a year before Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Manchester United for the second time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team scored 73 goals and finished second. In 2021/22 – the goals that Ronaldo was supposed to add to the team that was running well – did not come. On the contrary, the team scored 16 fewer goals. The team’s top scorer was Ronaldo – with 18 goals.
Ronaldo, as mentioned, demanded the ball, kicked the goal from poor scoring situations and did not press like his teammates – 6.7 exits per pressure in 90 minutes, the fewest of all the midfielders and strikers in the top five leagues. As a result, Manchester United fell 4 places to sixth place.
In the summer, Ronaldo went through a family tragedy – when his son died in childbirth. At the same time, his agent tried to look for a team for him in the Champions League because Ronaldo admitted that this was his obsession. This did not happen, as already mentioned. In the professional arena, he did not accept the club’s commitment to the fact that the new coach, Ten Hag, would give him enough minutes and opportunities.
Ten Hag is doing to Ronaldo exactly what Alex Ferguson would do to a fading player who thinks he is bigger than the team. In this sense, he follows the long-standing tradition of Manchester United. Rio Ferdinand , formerly of Manchester United and a commentator at BT, explained that it does not matter – because it is Cristiano Ronaldo . “Whether you like it or not, Cristiano is one of the greatest footballers of all time – he must be treated differently.”
But even without the data and without the history, it’s hard to miss that without Ronaldo on the pitch, Manchester United is simply better – and that’s the only thing that interests Ten Hag.
Ronaldo’s anger and frustration can be understood. “He was the main player, the superstar who wins titles, one of the best in the world, maybe the best and now, for the first time in his career, he is with a coach who tells him that he is no longer integral to the team” wrote Alan Shearer in Toro Athletic. “I understand that Ronaldo’s behaviour looks bad, and it is bad, but within the world of Ronaldo’s content, he is in an unprecedented situation. He suddenly feels like an ordinary player. Think how strange it is for him to walk on the same planet as everyone else when you are used to setting inexorable standards for yourself. Are possible. You are a force of nature whose power has suddenly been curbed.”
In short, it’s hard to be Superman without Superman’s powers, and what happens to Ronaldo is no different from what happened and happens to other athletes who suddenly encountered “Father Time” – no one beats him.