Ronaldo, full-back worry, and United's real Nunez strategy: The Treble column

Welcome to a new column on United In Focus, aptly named The Treble, consisting of three separate topics and opinions relating to Manchester United...

Giving Cristiano Ronaldo a break too late

How kind of Portugal to give Cristiano Ronaldo a rest against Switzerland on Sunday night and let him finish his season a couple of days early. Couldn’t this have been done sooner?

Ronaldo played in three UEFA Nations League games for Portugal in early June, extending this ridiculously long campaign much longer than required.

Nobody cares about the Nations League, not in a World Cup year, we certainly don’t need four games at the end of the season. Players’ seasons are being extended far longer than need be, with an early start to the upcoming season too, due to the World Cup.

But surely, Portugal could have given 37-year-old Ronaldo the entire break off? We all know Ronaldo is super-human, and he can handle it; that doesn’t make it right.

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He needs a mental break after the events of this year, on and off the pitch. Thankfully he will now get one, before returning for pre-season with United, ready to go again in early July.

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Changes needed at full-back

United have a priority situation to address in midfield this summer. It’s important that gets sorted as quickly as possible.

But I can’t help feeling that full-back, particularly right-back, should be just as big of an issue to solve.

Are we really going to leave Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot to run it back again this season, after providing a joint zero assists in 2021/22?

Is Ethan Laird ready to be thrown into the mix? At left-back surely it’s time to send Alex Telles packing and bring in new competition for Luke Shaw?

These positions will likely get addressed in July or August, and it will be interesting to see what Erik ten Hag settles on and who he brings in. Full-backs are crucial to his style of play, and his current options at United look to be sub-par.

Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

United’s real Darwin Nunez strategy

A lot has been made of Manchester United missing out on Darwin Nunez to Liverpool. Suggestions United battled Liverpool with financial offers seem to be overblown, with the Red Devils walking away amid Liverpool’s interests. It’s sensible, with £70-80 million too much to pay for a striker in United’s current situation.

So what exactly what Manchester United’s strategy here? A report in The Athletic last month claimed United hoped Nunez could be signed for around £50 million.

This was much more suitable to United’s situation. But a cheaper deal could only have been achieved if United were the top dogs in the bidding war, and Nunez had pushed for a move to Old Trafford, and refused to entertain alternatives.

United hoped to be the biggest club in the chase, against the likes of West Ham and Newcastle, that Nunez would have his heart set on the Red Devils.

Once Liverpool got involved, Nunez signalled his preference to join them instead and play in the Champions League. United sensibly retracted from the situation and are looking elsewhere.

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