It’s been an interesting few months for Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United, as problem after problem seems to keep cropping up for him.
It seems like the current state of affairs at United gets worse as each day passes, and it’s hard to picture how Rangnick solves all of the problems in the four months he has remaining as manager.
Unfortunately, it’s looking like another issue is beginning to emerge, which has also caused a massive split in the United fanbase.
That issue is Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 37-year-old’s deadline day move in the summer transfer window feels like it happened ages ago, and many United fans may argue that it was the most dramatic transfer in the history of the club. Indeed, it left fans celebrating as they had just won a trophy.
His campaign started so well too. Two goals on a perfect return against Newcastle meant expectations were high for the rest of the season, and many people thought United would challenge for the title with Ronaldo in the team. However, as we’ve seen, that just hasn’t happened.
He still has 14 goals in all competitions this season but hasn’t scored since United’s 3-1 win over Burnley in December.
His performances of late have caused a massive divide. On the one hand, United supporters want to remain loyal to Ronaldo because he’s a legend of the club and one of the greatest strikers that’s ever lived. Give him one chance, and he’ll take it.
On the other hand, some fans think that Ronaldo doesn’t suit United’s system and instead holds other players back because the team has to accommodate his needs.
You have to take both into account. While Ronaldo isn’t the problem, he also isn’t the solution. The issue is that if Rangnick decides to drop him, the whole world will scrutinize the decision, especially if United loses a game without him included. It also doesn’t help that the team is currently unbalanced.
People have also forgotten that United wouldn’t be in the UEFA Champions League right now if it weren’t for Ronaldo. His six goals single-handedly got his team through to the knockout stages, and he’s still a goalscoring machine.
Of course, the Middlesbrough game brought the debate to fruition because he didn’t play well, but he can still evidently perform at a high level. He’s just going through a patch.
At the same time, I don’t think he suits Rangnick, and when you factor in that either Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag like younger players too, he probably won’t fit them either.
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It’s why there’s a genuine possibility that Ronaldo could depart United in the summer and only history needs to tell you why this could happen.
Every time Ronaldo has left a team, he’s done so independently, not the clubs. When he left United, he did so because he wanted to join Real Madrid. When he left Madrid, he wanted a new challenge and was unhappy. At Juventus, I left because I wanted to feel loved elsewhere.
While Ronaldo knows most United supporters love him, he isn’t going to stay at a place where he feels unwanted. It’s game over when that happens, and his past shows it. His fallout with Jose Mourinho, Allegri and Maurizio Sarri are just examples of this.
A lot can change between now and the end of the season, and no one should ever rule out Cristiano Ronaldo, but knowing the split around him in the fanbase, the philosophy of United’s managerial targets and their likening for younger players, who knows what the future holds for him at Old Trafford.
Could Ronaldo leave in the summer? Follow our United On My Mind writer omar garrick on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.