There was a reason Manchester United did not go all out to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the club sooner.
Ronaldo was viewed as a luxury signing at Old Trafford, with United finishing as the league’s second highest goalscorers in 2020/21. Many believed a deal would simply never happen. So the club made plans to go without him.
Only when it became crystal clear he would be moving on from Juventus, and City started showing interest, did United start to take action.
Ronaldo’s brilliant start has made the deal look like an inspired move.
Circumstances relating to two first team players have also made Ronaldo’s transfer look like a necessity, rather than a luxury.
Edinson Cavani unreliable
Edinson Cavani is a brilliant striker, one of the best of the past decade and United are lucky to have him. He brought life into the number 7 shirt again, and finished last season in lethal form.
But he has shown to start this season that United simply could not have relied upon him.
He has played just 37 minutes of action this season. Defeats against Young Boys and West Ham may not have occurred if he had been available.
Last season Cavani only started 13 Premier League games. The Uruguayan was seen as one reason not to sign Ronaldo, as the club already had an ageing striker on the books on high wages.
Ronaldo is far more reliable and he has shown this so far, taking no time to settle in at all. With two more international breaks upcoming this Autumn, which Cavani may or may not be travelling for. Mix this in with his ongoing fitness issues, and there is no way of telling how long it could be until he makes a sustained impact this season.
Signing Ronaldo was absolutely essential, and if not for him, Cavani’s continued absence would be a lot more stressful.
Anthony Martial stuck in first gear
Where do you start with Anthony Martial right now? Let’s try to be kind and simply say this is a player who is nowhere near the level United currently need.
Going from Ronaldo to Martial as a replacement is a severe step down and while nobody can really compare to he number 7, the drop off should not be like this.
The Frenchman’s form is poor and if not for Ronaldo, United would be stuck relying on him to contribute.
Wednesday night was bad enough. Imagine having to rely on him against Villa this weekend and then Villarreal next week followed by Everton days later. Ronaldo’s presence means Martial can leave the line-up and revert to the bench.
United would have hoped a summer break and chance to clear his head would have brought Martial back more focused and more determined. Nothing seems to have changed yet.
Rashford’s injury was always coming
You could throw Marcus Rashford in with these two, except United knew last season that an operation was always likely.
United chose to ‘kick the can down the road’ last season and delay surgery until the summer. The club are paying for it now.
But it should be just fine. Rashford is due back in just over a fortnight and he won’t miss many games after that. He is as reliable as you can get, scoring 43 goals in the last two seasons.
Rashford will soon be back firing alongside Ronaldo. When Cavani and Martial decide to join the party is anybody’s guess.
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