17.12.2021 » Ranking Ronaldo's first half of the season - Is there more to come?
Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid back in 2018, life on the pitch simply hasn't been as smooth. The Portuguese superstar continues to land goals wherever he goes, including Juventus and Manchester United, but there have been wider issues. For example, he's won far fewer trophies. Therefore, his move to Old Trafford has been interspersed with off-the-field problems that have contributed to the team's performances. Underneath it all, however, Cristiano Ronaldo has maintained his impeccable standards and signalled there is more to come in the New Year.
Cristiano Ronaldo - Rangnick at the helm:
Personal records reflect his consistency
Judging Ronaldo by United's poor first half of the season is harsh. After all, the man can only contribute so much and there's a duty upon everybody else to do their bit. Sadly the players have failed to deliver consistently and so too did Manchester United's disgraced manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was dismissed earlier this year. It's perhaps unsurprising that people betting on football with Paddy Power will notice the club's odds for the Premier League title are now as low as 150/1. Undoubtedly, Ronaldo wouldn't have been expecting this when he signed.
Regardless, it's not as if the striker is struggling to adapt to the Premier League following 12 years outside of English football. Seven league goals in 13 appearances: exactly what United have needed in order to cement the fourth Champions League qualifying spot. Indeed, Ronaldo is the clear second-favourite for the Golden Boot behind Mohamed Salah.
Compared to the 2008/2009 season, his last season in England before moving to Spain, he's already on course to smash his goal (18 in 33) and assist tallies. Concerning the latter, he has two this season, whilst he managed six in 2008/2009. Man United might not be consistent, but Ronaldo sure is.
800 - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the 800th goal of his professional career for club and country, scoring 129 of those for Man Utd (also 5 for Sporting, 450 Real Madrid, 101 Juventus, 115 Portugal). Remarkable. pic.twitter.com/kU7Z3zObAQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 2, 2021
Fitting into Ralf Rangnick's system
A lot has been made about whether Ronaldo and Ralf Rangnick are compatible, and while they have played just a handful of matches together, it appears as if the answer to the question is, "yes". The German pinned his colours to the Portuguese player's mast before a ball had been kicked, noting how essential Ronaldo is to any squad in the world.
Still, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and when Rangnick said he was taken aback by Ronaldo's pressing in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, he wasn't lying. The key seems to be the slight tactical change that the new manager has implemented to suit both him and his top striker. By playing a 4-2-2-2, the players can position themselves further up the pitch, cutting off the spaces Ronaldo is expected to cover.
Rather than pressing from 20 yards out, this meant he could pressurise Palace's defenders from five to ten yards away, as Paul Ince explains in more detail in the Manchester Evening News. Plus, using Marcus Rashford as a foil for the forward meant Rashford picks up the slack when Ronaldo's pressing is quite tight. If this continues to be the case, the second half of the campaign could be very exciting for Red Devil supporters.
A Second Chance in Europe
Paris Saint-Germain is a club with issues, and United probably thought they could create opportunities against the biggest side in France. But, with Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe to rely on, it would have been a significant challenge for Ronaldo and his teammates. Thankfully, the redraw gave them hope.
Atletico Madrid are the current Spanish champions, so Atleti won’t be rolled over easily. On the flip side, Diego Simeone's men aren’t hitting the same high standards, which isn't good news when you factor in Ronaldo's record against the Rojiblancos. In 35 appearances in all competitions, this Goal report says he’s bagged 25 goals.
The bookies must have considered the Ronaldo effect as they quote United's overall odds for the Champions League crown at 18/1, whereas Atletico Madrid's odds are 40/1. Come February, a quarter-final place will await one of these sides, and United are in the ascendency right now.
Ronaldo's performances so far have been very good. With Rangnick finding a solution to the pressing issue and Man United being redrawn against Atletico Madrid, the New Year could get even better.
Cristiano Ronaldo next game for Manchester United is on December 18, against Brighton. You can watch Manchester United vs Brighton, Sevilla vs Atletico Madrid, Barcelona vs Elche, Atalanta vs AS Roma, Salernitana vs Inter, and Bayern Munich vs Wolfsburg, all matches provided from our live streaming game pages.
Manchester United next game:
Manchester United vs Brighton Hove Albion kick-off time (18-12-2021):
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