As of the 23rd of November, as the international break concludes, Cristiano Ronaldo has the same number of goals for Al Nassr as the entire Manchester United squad has scored in the Premier league this season.
While attacking Saudi Pro League teams may be slightly easier to score on than hard to break down than premier league defenses, this allows us to reach the conclusion that Ronaldo was far from the problem at United.
Getting on well on the pitch with fellow attacking weapons Anderson Talisca and Sadio Mane, as well as the supporting cast of his Saudi teammates- many of whom also play in the Saudi national team- such as Sami Al-Najei- has helped Ronaldo put up elite numbers. But these goal contributions are far from mere tap ins or penalties as he has scored some outrageous long range curled finishes, free kicks and volleys.
I would like to specifically point fingers at Erik Ten Haag who went as far as to declare that Ronaldo was “The Problem” at Manchester United.
While Cristiano Ronaldo did have a short dry spell while often coming off the bench in the 2022/2023 season, his scoring abilities greatly outweighed any perceived issues in defensive work rate, and was not given time or trust to regain confidence. Put simply, treating one of your clubs greatest players- capable of playing at unmatched level- as a pariah is extremely arrogant.
No better showcase of Ronaldo’s elite ability this season can be found than his 60th minute long range SCREAMER against Al Duhail in the AFC champions league. It was an absolute stunner few players would be capable of.
Ronaldo’s form in the European qualifiers looks extremely good with 10 goals in 9 games for the Portuguese national side. I also noticed that physically he seems to be in top condition, showcasing his trademark great pace, movement and playing a lot of minutes.
I just can’t wrap my head around it that you’d discard one of the most complete strikers in the game, in favor of players that just don’t have the same skillset or mentality. Ten Haag would rather show trust in Antony- sometimes called an 80 million pound fidget spinner, and rely on goal output essentially solely from Marcus Rashford- a lethal player on his day but altogether ineffective outside of counter attacks. Marcus is also vulnerable to inconsistencies and long periods of form drops due to being a confidence player.
Rasmus Hojlund, Ronaldo’s replacement does look to be a great future prospect and I can see his positioning and movement, as well as a desire to make bursting runs through on goal. But the lack of service Hojlund is receiving is limiting the young star’s chances. Ronaldo was still able to score 18 goals in 31 matches in the 2021-22 season with the questionable creative abilities of this Man United side, as the experienced forward was able to fashion his own chances using his versatile skillset.