Given the standard he has set for himself, Cristiano Ronaldo is not having the best of time at Manchester United. For the first time in over 17 years, Ronaldo will end the season devoid of any trophy.
On a personal level, his finishing prowess is at wane, and his defensive contribution has seen a drastic decline. Managers who prefer high-press football will not likely want him at the front, and with 15 goals so far in the Premier League, he is on the course to recording his lowest goal tally in over a decade.
Ralf Ragnick, the interim manager, prefers Edinson Cavani over Ronaldo when he sets up his team for high and intense pressing. Ahead of the game against Burnley, Ragnick said: “Today it will require a lot of sprinting, chasing balls, a lot of fight for second balls. This best fits the profile for Edinson Cavani which is why he starts today.”
Further, the Portuguese forward has never missed as many games as he did this season, due to different injuries. Never since 2014/15 has Ronaldo sustained three different injuries. This year he endured an arm injury before his recurrent hip flexor issue resurfaced.
Against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, the winger failed to register a single shot on the target. He hasn’t been the attacking threat he used to be even until last season at Juventus, where he averaged 5.1 shots at goal per match. In contrast, he has managed only 3.7 shots per match in the ongoing season.
All these numbers paint a clear picture of Ronaldo’s decline, which is quite natural considering he is now 37. But even though he is at the twilight of his illustrious career, the impact he has made on Manchester United has been massive. Without his presence, the club would not have been fighting for the top five.
In the Premier League, Manchester United have lost all games in which Ronaldo didn’t play. Without Ronaldo’s goals, they would have been languishing in the bottom half of the club. Barring his goals against Burnley and Brighton, 19 out of 21 goals he has managed this season have proved decisive for United.