Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed at this afternoon’s press conference ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League clash with Newcastle that Cristiano Ronaldo will make his much-awaited second debut for the club.
However, one thing that the boss would not reveal is whether Ronaldo would be taking over set-piece duties and penalties from Portuguese compatriot, Bruno Fernandes.
When asked about set-pieces, Solskjaer neatly sidestepped the issue, saying ‘he’s a threat from direct set plays himself but also to be on the end of crosses.’
And whilst the legendary number seven is regarded as one of the finest free kick takers in the world, statistically, Bruno outscores him on every important marker as The Daily Star has noted.
‘Fernandes has scored 43 times for the Red Devils in 83 appearances – an astonishing 21 being from the penalty spot and two free-kicks,’ The Star reports.
‘But at national level, it is Ronaldo that assumes duties of all free-kicks and penalties and that policy could continue at United.
‘Fernandes has an astounding penalty conversion rate and has missed just once for United – against Newcastle last season.
‘Since 2017/18, the playmaker has a conversation rate of 96.2 per cent whereas his compatriot, Ronaldo, has just 83.9 per cent.’
In terms of free kicks, Fernandes also has the edge, with Ronaldo posting some very disappointing stats in recent times.
‘The five-time Ballon d’Or just is not that good at them anymore – during his entire Juventus career he took 69 free-kicks – scoring one – a measly 1.45 per cent conversion rate.
‘Fernandes, on the other hand, has scored some sensational goals from free-kicks – and that does not even mention the many times he has set up his teammates from similar situations.
‘The former Sampdoria star [has] a respectable free-kick conversation rate of 8.6 per cent.’
There were reports around the time of Ronaldo’s signing that Fernandes phoned him and pestered him to join the Red Devils and offered him the set-piece duties as a reward for doing so.
Whether that is true of not remains to be seen but United fans will not have long to wait to find out which Portuguese magnifico is called upon to weave the dead ball magic tomorrow.