Liverpool great Jamie Carragher is certain Cristiano Ronaldo may be causing more “problems” than he will be solving at Manchester United despite the Portuguese forward’s scoring three goals in two games since rejoining the club from Juventus.
The 36-year-old Portuguese man-of-war has kicked off a sensational start to a second lease of life back at Old Trafford, scoring three times in his two appearances to date, but was unfortunately unable to prevent the Red Devils from losing to Young Boys in the Champions League mid-week at Berne in Switzerland.
And former Liverpool defender Carragher is highly sceptical about the actual impact Ronaldo will have on his team’s success this season, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be confronted with a player selection dilemma due to the presence and prominence of the former Real Madrid and Juventus star.
“The broader question for United is whether Ronaldo’s arrival gets them any nearer to being a team that can win the title and Champions League again,” Carragher said in his Telegraph column.
“On the evidence of the first few games, albeit they have won three of their first five matches, I would say no. What his arrival alone cannot do is turn United into a title-winning unit or impose the distinctive way of playing they still lack.
“United still look like an ensemble of brilliant individuals in need of being moulded into a collective force. United’s Champions League defeat on Tuesday struck me as a classic example of a coach in a position where he could overthink his selection so ended up making changes in an attempt to keep everyone happy. This might become a recurring problem and is partially a knock-on effect from the Ronaldo deal.
“When fit, he will start as the centre-forward. That means others will have their positions regularly shifted. Coaches like to say that they welcome selection headaches. If you become too concerned about getting players game time, it can have an unsettling impact on the balance of the side and consistency of performances.”
With Ronaldo starting as United’s No 9, Jadon Sancho, signed this summer for £72.9 million from Borussia Dortmund, will now be in the competition with Mason Greenwood to start as a regular on the right.
The next to be affected is Paul Pogba, whose role also remains unclear, having impressed as a left-sided midfielder initially, before switching back to center-midfield against Wolves and Newcastle.
Marcus Rashford’s, upon his anticipated return from injury, will of course provide another interesting option to negotiate, while Edinson Cavani’s path to regular starts also looks problematic if Ronaldo remains fit and eager to play in every game.
A trip to West Ham this Sunday presents an opportunity for the mighty Red Devils to bounce back from defeat mid-week and provide more insight as to how Solskjaer will accommodate the great ringmaster Ronaldo and the supporting circus entourage moving forward.