At the top of the list of things Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must work out in order to get his Manchester United team firing again is the issues Cristiano Ronaldo is causing.
United knew what they were getting when they brought the legendary Portuguese attacker through the door, an almost endless supply of goals.
Something that perhaps wasn’t considered was the effect his lack of work rate and pressing would have on the team as a whole.
Signing Ronaldo was always going to elevate #MUFC forward line + require compromise.
Pressing stats (from Oct 1) no surprise but showed even more today (Vardy comparison too).
— Laurie Whitwell (@lauriewhitwell) October 16, 2021
Rock bottom for presses per 90, this isn’t in any way a shock as this has been the case throughout most of his career.
For every other side he’s played for, Ronaldo has been flanked by players around him who will make up for his lack of work rate by working doubly hard.
This is currently not the case at Old Trafford and as a result teams are finding it all too easy to slice United open and create and score at will.
Last season with Edinson Cavani up front (known for his relentless work ethic) United averaged 132.7 pressures per 90, this has dropped significantly to 117.3 this term.
Of course, Ronaldo isn’t the only issue contributing to United’s poor form, as their overall shape when out of possession is puzzling.
Solskjaer indicated post-match that a change may be needed tactically and while dropping Ronaldo seems unlikely, working out the best system to utilise his abundant strengths is vital.
Ole must find a way to cover for Ronaldo’s lack of defensive ability, carrying him from a defensive standpoint can be done but do United have the workhorses capable of doing so?
With the games only getting harder from here on out, United must work out these issues or prepare for a number of hellacious beatings at the hands of their rivals.