Signing Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2021 was a dream come true for almost all Manchester United fans.
Those who were unsure of what he’ll provide pushed the negative thoughts to the back of their minds to celebrate the return of a club legend.
United finished second last season. Ronaldo was meant to be the difference between second and first.
It’s a question most supporters want answers for but the focus here will only be on Ronaldo and what he has to offer.
Ronaldo: The greatest goalscorer
It’s obvious the prolific Portuguese is no longer the player he once was but there could still be a way to extract the most out of him.
What Ronaldo does best is goalscoring and he’s still excellent at it and at coming up big when a club is in their lowest moments, even this season.
Karim Benzema recently denied he was his former teammate’s deputy, instead seemingly suggesting he facilitated the United star.
The Frenchman insisted he did this because Ronaldo was the greater goalscorer and not because it had anything to do with egos or personalities.
Benzema made a calculated decision and opted to ensure he played his role in ensuring his former colleague maximised the potential to score and make a difference.
Essentially this is what the Red Devils must do. When Ronaldo plays for a team, he tends to hoover up all the goals scored by that club, with those around him not necessarily playing worse but certainly scoring less.
However, that doesn’t make him bad or evil or not a team player. Rather it’s just a way of increasing a team’s chances to win matches.
If you want to bet your money on someone scoring, it’s Ronaldo.
If Madrid facilitated everything about their game towards Benzema, they might not have won as many trophies, or he might not have scored as many goals as the former Sporting Lisbon man.
Support Ronaldo, increase your odds of winning
Football’s a game of odds and having Ronaldo on your team, and providing him the best platform to perform, meant you’re increasing your odds more than you dreamed.
Manchester United could do the same. The sensational attacker still has lots left in the tank.
If United create a system that caters to Ronaldo as the ultimate finisher, then both parties will benefit tremendously.
There’s no need to ask him to run 50km a match or to ask him to become a provider or require him to drop deep to not be isolated from his teammates.
Simply put, put the chances on a plate for Ronaldo and he will deliver, and the Red Devils have to do that if they wish to extract the most from him.
It essentially means Ralf Rangnick has to find a way to get the rest of the players to be the ultimate creators but if done then the 36-year-old will net just as often as he did with Madrid.
Juventus never fully facilitated Ronaldo and so he and they failed in their ultimate goal.
United need to learn from that mistake and ensure the rest of the team picks up the slack, both defensively and creatively.
When to doubt Ronaldo
When the experienced forward starts to lose his goalscoring instinct then the Red Devils can start to consider tweaking his role or featuring him less.
Ryan Giggs in his later years lost what made him so great, his pace and dribbling, and so was turned into a playmaker of sorts, protected by harder-working midfielders around him.
It allowed the Welshman to deliver again at a high level before his influence eventually dropped off again and he retired aged 40.
If Ronaldo, and United, want him to last the same way, then he has to be facilitated until he’s not worth being facilitated for but until now, that moment hasn’t come.