Cristiano Ronaldo sat out Manchester United’s game against Young Boys in midweek. The team did not win, but it did not matter, with United already qualifying for the knockout rounds.
It may be telling, however, that on the three occasions United have chosen to rest Ronaldo since he signed, United have not won any of them.
Manchester United this season without Ronaldo
The other two games were the draw with Everton and the draw with Chelsea. Ronaldo’s absence, of course, does not tell the full story.
In both matches, United were leading 1-0 before Ronaldo was brought on, and drew each match 1-1. So how do you explain that and attribute it to being down to dropping Ronaldo?
The results may just be coincidental. But there is an added, unquantifiable hazard caused by leaving Ronaldo out in these games: he becomes a big distraction.
The media narrative shifts to Ronaldo being left out, and even more concerningly, the managers in the Everton and Chelsea games have felt a need to bring the forward on, just because he is Ronaldo, when the team were getting on just fine without him.
In each game, United were going well, and could not see out the game. Sometimes leaving Ronaldo out causes more problems than it solves.
Ronaldo should stay in the line-up
One former player who believes Ronaldo should never be dropped, is Treble winner Dwight Yorke.
Yorke told The Athletic: “Some of the best players should not be rested. You start your best players, whether you’re in a schoolboy team or a Premier League team. Don’t complicate it, start Cristiano Ronaldo. United would be in an even worse position without him. He’s 36 but he’s a freak; he’s not like a normal 36-year-old player.”
The proof is in the goals. Ronaldo has scored 12 times this season for United, while the nearest other players in the team have 5 (Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes).
United’s commitment to starting Ronaldo is about to be tested. New manager Ralf Rangnick will have his own mind about what he wants to do, and knows United have a multitude of attacking options.
United have lost games with Ronaldo in the line-up too. While he does give the team a greater chance of victory each week, he’s no guarantee, and Rangnick will not want to risk burning him out or not playing him when he is not 100 per cent.
There are a high number of games upcoming over the next few weeks, and Edinson Cavani’s return from injury, Ronaldo’s place in every single game is far from guaranteed.
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