Hand the keys to Cristiano Ronaldo and let him drive this team. That is our plea to Manchester United going forward.

Ronaldo has shown upon returning that he is a real difference maker. Four goals in his opening three games demonstrated the impact he can have.

But there was little to get excited about in the defeat to Aston Villa, and the side need to go ‘all in’ with Ronaldo in order to improve.

At the moment United are still Bruno Fernandes’ team. It shouldn’t matter, but it does.

Ronaldo is taking a step back when he normally wouldn’t, and it is affecting the impact he can make.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-ASTON VILLA
(Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The first instance of this came with an early free-kick on the edge of Villa’s box. Ronaldo stepped aside for Fernandes to take it, and his effort hit the wall.

Ronaldo also deferred to let Fernandes take the last minute penalty, which his teammate missed.

Normally there is reason for this. Fernandes has earned this role in he team. He scored a free-kick from a similar position in pre-season against Everton and his penalty record is fantastic.

But where Ronaldo is concerned, it all feels very unnatural.

 

This is a player who has been at the top of the game for more than a decade and took the fight to one of the greatest Barcelona teams of all time. He has five Champions League medals and five Ballon d’Ors.

Ronaldo is at his best when everything is running through him. United are still to adjust to that.

The team have to be careful not to neutralise Fernandes in any way, but he will be just fine. He may even benefit from not being under pressure to carry this United team.

This is what Ronaldo does best. He needs to be allowed to take over a bit more. Put Ronaldo on free-kicks, put him on penalties, and focus more on setting up to find him in space.

Two wins and two defeats from the four games Ronaldo has played shows United haven’t quite got it running seamlessly yet, and the disjointed display against Villa summed up a faltering team.

Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League
(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Small changes can bring improved results

These changes don’t have to be huge on United’s part, but Ronaldo needs to be allowed to ‘do his thing’.

United have one of the greatest players of all time in attack, and there needs to be greater focus on getting more from him.

The team haven’t done a bad job so far. He is still averaging a goal per game. But Ronaldo is still capable of more.

Ole may be at the wheel, for now, but on the pitch at least, it is time Cristiano Ronaldo drives.

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