United need Ronaldo to inspire a side full of spineless players

Cristiano Ronaldo is United’s top scorer this season, and has a scoring ratio better than a goal in every second game. He’s one of the greatest players ever to play the game, and is one of the few leaders at the club.
United need Ronaldo to inspire a side full of spineless players

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo salutes the fans following the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Saturday April 16, 2022.

IT'S laughable to think that the best goalscorer in the Premier League and perhaps the best out-and-out striker is fighting for his Manchester United career. 

Cristiano Ronaldo is United’s top scorer this season, and has a scoring ratio better than a goal in every second game. 

He’s one of the greatest players ever to play the game, and is one of the few leaders at the club.

Critics are always quick to point out his desire to close down opposition players and that is true to some extent. 

Yes, he could sprint to close down opposition players, but at 37, that could be wasting energy. 

Pressing from the front depends on the entire team doing the same. United aren’t a pressing team, they stand off teams and try to set traps and allow them to make mistakes - like Ronaldo’s first goal against Norwich City. 

Ronaldo staying in defensive shape and not allowing defenders pass through the middle, is his defensive job done. 

Being good defensively as a striker isn’t about running around and wasting energy, it’s about not making it easy for defenders to play out and try to force them into mistakes.

The striker's problem can be because he is so good offensively that people expect the same from him defensively. 

He doesn’t switch off when his side are out of possession. He doesn’t turn his back to play or ignore centre-backs trying to step into play. 

He does what is required, sometimes that can be the bare minimum, but that is more than a lot of the United players do. 

He wants to conserve his energy and his explosiveness - which at his age is remarkable to still have, because it is easy to be fit at 37, all professionals at that age can run around but few are explosive - for the important moments in front of goals. 

Fresher legs are better for finishing an opportunity rather than tired ones. If his legs are jaded because he decided to sprint to close down an opposition player - most times that player would just simply pass to a teammate and Ronaldo’s energy would be wasted - it it is more likely he will be too tired to finish a chance or make that explosive sprint to get into a position to finish a chance. 

Cristiano Ronaldo attempts a bicycle kick against Norwich City at Old Trafford. Pic: Jan Kruger, Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo attempts a bicycle kick against Norwich City at Old Trafford. Pic: Jan Kruger, Getty Images

I actually believe Ronaldo has been sloppy in front of goal this season and his finishing hasn’t been of the standard he has set in recent years and maybe that is to do with his age, but he is still the best goalscorer in the league.

There’s no question that he is a leader in a side full of spineless players. 

Again, he has been criticised for some of his actions after games in which United have been defeated but that's because he cares and expects better from the club. 

I’d much rather see a player vent his frustration and walk off a pitch than someone who stays on the pitch and seems more concerned about talking to an opposition player (friend) than they do about reflecting on what just happened. 

For Ronaldo, defeat isn’t acceptable, that's not the culture that he is used to but for too many of the United players, they have become accustomed to a lack of success, and defeats don’t affect them as much as they should.

Ronaldo is not a leader because he isn’t happy about losing or because he high-fives teammates in the tunnel before the game. 

I saw videos praising Ronaldo for doing this before the Norwich game but I actually don’t like this. 

It’s common in football that the high-fives and words of encouragement between teammates is done in the dressing rooms just before referees come knocking on the door to call the teams out, so I don’t buy into the theory that doing that in the tunnel makes a player a leader. 

What makes Ronaldo a leader is his professionalism away from football, so that at 37, he is still the best player at one of the biggest clubs in the world. 

Young players at the club should be emulating the way Ronaldo lives his life off the pitch. His leadership is shown through his performances and the fight he is showing to prove he is worth keeping at the club. 

This is a player that has achieved everything and yet, he is fighting to remain at the club when I’m sure he has easier options on the table and getting rid of him would be a mistake.

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