Manchester United’s woeful 1-0 home defeat to Wolves yesterday can be attributed to a number of things.
According to the country’s top football journalists, interim manager Ralf Rangnick has thus far failed to implement the coherent system he promised when appointed following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Reporters also point to the players, who continue to frustrate and disappoint fans and consecutive managers.
These issues have been discussed in our earlier articles this morning, but there was one other common theme that was shared by most of the post match reports: the Cristiano Ronaldo effect.
The Athletic’s Adam Crafton writes: ‘Ronaldo, captain on the night but again anonymous, disappointed and it was strange to hear Rangnick say that it was a choice only between Greenwood and Cavani to be substituted on the hour mark.
‘Even the most devoted Ronaldo supporter could be forgiven for wondering right now whether Ronaldo’s presence in the side is bringing as much as it may be taking away from United’s collective effort.’
The Times’ Henry Winter believes that ‘Ronaldo has to be more positive towards his team-mates; his standards are exceptionally high, which is why he is one of the greatest footballers of all time, but he casts a cloud with his glares.
‘And Ronaldo contributes nothing when United are out of possession, beyond a couple of clearing headers at Wolves corners.’
Jason Burt of The Telegraph was also unimpressed with the Portuguese legend. ‘Without Maguire, Cristiano Ronaldo was captain, for the first time for United since March 2008 – presumably in the hope that it would improve his body language, but that did not happen,’ he said.
‘Once more he scuttled off at the final whistle, shaking his head and if Rangnick has any authority he will nip this in the bud.’
The Daily Star’s Dan Marsh says ‘Ronaldo was given a huge vote of confidence by Rangnick after being handed the captain’s armband for the clash against Wolves.
‘Ronaldo, who last donned the armband for United back in 2008, has come under fire in recent weeks for some questionable body language.
‘Rangnick backed the Portuguese superstar in the wake of that criticism – but it was a move that backfired.
‘Ronaldo struggled to have real impact in a game that, ultimately, passed him by.’
In fairness to Ronaldo, he did find the back of the net – only for the goal to be ruled out on a marginal offside decision.
Some might argue that he is being scapegoated due to his reputation, that too much is being demanded of him. On the other hand, there is little arguing with the reporters that he seemed a peripheral figure for most of the game and did not seem to rise to the challenge of being given the armband.
Whether he will be kept on as captain, or indeed, whether he will be kept on in the side for United’s next game, remains to be seen.