Should The Superstar Ronaldo Start Every Game?

Manchester United’s current interim manager Michael Carrick decided to start Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest footballers of all time, on the bench for their clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. After entering the fray in the 1-1 draw in the 64th minute as a replacement for United goalscorer Jadon Sancho, it prompted comments from Roy Keane post-game that the thirty-six-year-old should have started.

And now, with Ralf Rangnick’s arrival, questions are being asked such as if Ronaldo can fit into the new manager’s famed high press style of play, which many believe will enable United to get back into the top four picture. No doubt if results go the Red Devil’s way, it may look like a more realistic proposition which will result in recently launched PartySports and other bookmakers adjusting their Top Four markets. However, there are still many undecided about whether Ronaldo’s achievements and status in the game are enough to guarantee him a starting place regardless.

Using this season in isolation, Ronaldo is delivering the goods in terms of goal involvement. The thirty-six-year-old has made sixteen appearances thus far, with ten goals and two assists to his name. And, when you convert this with minutes played in the conversation, CR7 is directly involved in a goal every 1.1 games, which is remarkable. So, the argument is that he’s still proving himself more than capable, which should mean he gets the nod.

However, the alternative argument is that Ralf Rangnick will come into the club and impose his high pressing style from the get-go. And, if this is the case, it could mean Ronaldo finds himself named amongst the substitutes more often, as pressing isn’t something you associate the five-time Ballon d’Or winner with.

Keane suggests that United and Rangnick must work around Ronaldo and likened the situation to when Eric Cantona was at Old Trafford. It’s a fair point because even though he may not fit what many expect to see in terms of style of play, you can’t argue against what the Portuguese attacker can bring to the table in terms of goals, assists and game-changing moments.

One thing that United and Rangnick cannot allow to happen is there to be any uncertainty for either party. Ronaldo made the move back to Old Trafford to play, not to be a bench warmer and will have suitors if he was to be made available. So, if Rangnick feels he won’t be able to give CR7 the guarantees he wants where playing time is concerned, it may prove wise for there to be a parting of ways in January.

As seen previously with players such as Paul Pogba, there is the opportunity for them to become the talking point and somewhat of a distraction. And, with Ronaldo being arguably the highest-profile footballer around, his non-involvement would make Rangnick’s task more complicated than it needs to be.

If the incoming caretaker manager can find a way to get Ronaldo into his system, he undoubtedly will because if they want goals, he is the man to get them. But, could it be a case of putting the plan and the team ahead of an individual, no matter how great he is?

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