Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United was an unexpected surprise.
Ronaldo has already proven his enduring quality at the age of 36, scoring nine goals for the club so far.
The Portuguese superstar could become the first United player since Robin van Persie to net 30 goals for the club in a single season.
What his return has done, is delay the prospect of Manchester United fans seeing another dream front three in action.
Jadon Sancho’s summer arrival was the one United fans had been longing for, with the winger seen as a missing piece in the club’s exciting young attack.
With Sancho on the right, United could line up a trio of prodigious young England forwards, with Mason Greenwood in the centre and Marcus Rashford on the left.
Ronaldo’s presence, as great as he is, means United have to select two from three of Sancho, Greenwood and Rashford any given week.
And in cases where United lined up with an experienced duo of Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani up front – the answer was instead to select none of them.
Add in Anthony Martial to the mix too, and United’s wide variance of options means that so far, the trio of Sancho, Greenwood and Rashford has not yet been seen together.
Could it happen this weekend?
Sooner or later, rotation will enable United to select this exciting young trio.
While not probable, it is possible United could even do so this coming weekend, with Ronaldo just coming back from international duty, while Rashford, Sancho, and Greenwood have all had a fortnight of rest.
United could look to save Ronaldo for bigger upcoming clashes against Villarreal and Chelsea – and bring him off the bench against Watford.
While not probable – Solskjaer would be adding pressure to himself by leaving Ronaldo out – it is at least possible and there is some logic to it.
Only a matter of time
With numerous games upcoming through December and January, there is a chance United do unleash this talented trio from the start in at least one game.
Ronaldo is not here to sit on the bench, but at 36, he is likely to sit out a game or two somewhere. And if Edinson Cavani is not fully fit, Mason Greenwood could be in contention to start up front for the first time since United’s 1-0 away win at Wolves.
Ronaldo signed a two year deal at United with an option for a third. It’s possible he could extend that.
But Ronaldo’s desire to stay will remain only as long as United stay competitive.
If United fail to qualify for the Champions League, will Ronaldo really want to stick around next season?
While that is a debate for 2022, if a scenario emerges where Ronaldo does elect to jump ship, United fans should not panic, because it will only mean more regular playing time for a front three which could yet define the club’s future era of success.
Supporters have waited a long time to see Greenwood, Rashford and Sancho playing together, and it will be a long time before it happens regularly.
The trio provide valuable insurance that there is life for United beyond Ronaldo, and with a bit of patience, they will eventually get their chance to link up together.
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