Manchester United are set to continue the 2022/23 season without Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad after his contract was terminated by mutual consent.
Having said that he does not respect head coach Erik ten Hag during an interview with Talk TV, there was clearly no way back for Ronaldo and his second spell at Manchester United has come to an ugly end.
United were already light in the centre-forward department coming into this season as they only had Ronaldo and Anthony Martial as recognised strikers in the squad. The latter has been impressive when playing but is often injured.
Ten Hag has often had to use Marcus Rashford as the striker even though the Englishman is generally more effective on the left wing. Now that the option of Ronaldo is gone, United surely need to enter the market in January for some attacking depth.
What sort of hole does Ronaldo’s departure leave in terms of goals and results, though?
Cristiano Ronaldo came back to Manchester United from Juventus at the beginning of the 2021/22 season and the figures would suggest that he was a much better player then than he is right now.
United lost all five Premier League games last season in which Ronaldo was not involved and his 24 goals in 38 appearances across all competitions were absolutely crucial for the Red Devils in what was overall a disappointing season.
They averaged 1.63 points per game with the Portuguese forward in the team and 0.4 per game without him. He was the primary source of goals but it still was not enough to secure Champions League qualification which led to his desire to leave in the summer.
Despite his and Jorge Mendes’ efforts, that move never materialised and he had to head back to Carrington with his tail between his legs.
Cristiano Ronaldo in 2021/22 – all competitions
We probably won’t know until he joins a new team whether Ronaldo’s drop in effectiveness this season was down to age starting to affect him or the fact that he had to stick around at a club he clearly wanted to leave, with a coach who can’t have wanted him to stay after the summer’s antics.
Simply put though, United have both looked better and been better without Ronaldo in 2022/23. Ronaldo has started ten of the 16 games that he has played a part in this season. In those ten starts, United have scored 12 goals. In the eight games that the former Real Madrid man has been involved in, they have scored 15 goals.
United just look a lot more fluid in attack when a selection of the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Antony, Jadon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho are on the pitch. There is a feeling that the entire team is servicing Ronaldo when he is on, attempting to gift him a goal on a silver platter. It was particularly prevalent in the Europa League group stage.
Ronaldo has got three goals and two assists in 16 games this season for United and that is where his tally will stay. It is not a lot of output for United to replace, but they will be concerned about simply having another player to put into the starting XI when other forwards are injured or need a rest.
The recent Carabao Cup victory for United over Aston Villa was a superb example of how United’s attack can look. The goals came from Rashford, Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Martial. There were also two assists off the bench for Garnacho, and Sancho and Antony were not involved.
There is plenty of firepower for Ten Hag to tap into, but United are missing that focal point. Now that Ronaldo is gone, they can address that in the transfer window and become a serious attacking force.
Cristiano Ronaldo in 2021/22 – all competitions
Marcus Rashford pays tribute to late friend with goal celebration
Marcus Rashford has revealed that his celebration following his first goal against Wales was a tribute to a friend who’d recently passed away.
The Man Utd man was in electric form for the Three Lions on Tuesday evening, scoring a brace and catapulting himself to the top of the tournament goalscoring charts in the process. In scoring his second and third goal in Qatar, Rahsford became the first Man Utd player to score three goals at a World Cup for England since Sir Bobby Charlton achieved the feat way back in 1966.
Speaking after the game to the press, Rashford revealed that he pointed to the sky following his first goal in order to pay tribute to his friend who passed away following a long battle with cancer:
“I lost one of my friends a couple of days ago. He had quite a long battle with cancer. I’m pleased I scored for him, he was a big supporter and good friend of mine. He was someone who came into my life.”
Rashford also gave an assessment of the game itself and his overall performance stating: “I fancied a free-kick in the first half, but the one in the second half was in a better position. From there it’s about being calm and executing what you do in training. They don’t go in often but I was glad it did today.
“It’s a great feeling. We were a bit disappointed after the USA game, and the only way to bounce back is to have a good performance in your next game; I thought we did it. It was just about taking the chances when they came.”
Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!
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Tottenham ask Inter about availability of key player
Tottenham Hotspur have made enquiries to Inter over right wing-back Denzel Dumfries, 90min understands.
Spurs are on the hunt for reinforcements at wing-back, with 90min previously reporting that one of Emerson Royal and Matt Doherty could be sold in January, while a loan move for Djed Spence looks likely.
On their list of targets is Dumfries, who is currently at the World Cup with the Netherlands. Inter need to sell one star player by the end of the season to help ease their financial woes.
It was previously thought that Milan Skriniar would be the man to make way, but he will either sign a new contract or leave for free when his current deal expires at the end of the season.
Instead, Inter will look to sell Dumfries in January and loan him back for the rest of the season, though Spurs would push to take him off their hands straight away.
Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey in the latest episode of Talking Transfers, discussing Cristiano Ronaldo’s interview and his future, Man Utd’s interest in Cody Gakpo, plus the latest on Endrick and Rafael Leao. Available on all audio platforms.
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In addition to Tottenham, Chelsea are also interested in the Dutchman, and this could drive Dumfries’ price up.
Dumfries signed for Inter in 2021 as a replacement for the outgoing Achraf Hakimi, whose sale partly contributed to the exit of current Spurs head coach Antonio Conte.
He scored five goals from wing-back in his debut season at San Siro and has found the net twice more this term.
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