Cristiano Ronaldo was given the night off in the Carabao Cup. Manchester United lost.
The decision to rest Ronaldo seemed logical enough. He is 36 after all.
United’s stand-ins could not deliver, with United defeated 1-0 by a spirited West Ham side.
There are three lessons from the cup defeat United can take which relate to Ronaldo…
A chance gone to kickstart trophy success
Cristiano Ronaldo will remember the moment his first Manchester United spell really kicked into gear.
It was not his first Premier League title in 2006/07. It was the League Cup win in March 2006.
Last year United’s club website described it as ‘the cup win that started a golden era’.
United won three consecutive league titles and a Champions League after getting a taste of silverware.
This season’s competition provided a moment to kickstart a trophyless spell under Solskjaer.
Ronaldo was part of that 2006 success, scoring in the 4-0 final win over Wigan.
Defeat does not write off success in other competitions
The home defeat to West Ham was not United’s worst Carabao Cup result.
One of the most humiliating came as holders in November 2006 as United suffered a 1-0 away defeat to Southend United.
Ronaldo played all 90 minutes that night, as did Wayne Rooney, only for United to suffer a bizarre loss.
The lesson here was that the early exit did not stop United’s league success.
Ronaldo and Rooney’s desire to win the Premier League intensified, going on to win finish first with a six point gap later that May.
This was United’s first league title in four years, ending an unusually barren spell under Sir Alex Ferguson.
So while the exit was a missed chance to kickstart United’s trophy run, Ronaldo will know well that it is not the only route to success.
United are reliant on Ronaldo
This was a chance for Manchester United’s stand-ins to shine and show they could step up.
Unfortunately the team appears dependent on Ronaldo’s goals already.
Edinson Cavani’s continued absence did not help, and it’s quite apparent United cannot rely on him.
Anthony Martial blew his opportunity to shine and never really looked like scoring. His chances as a Manchester United player are rapidly running out.
If United are going to surprise everybody by winning the league this year, it is going to be down to Ronaldo to inspire it.
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