Why Cristiano Ronaldo Will Struggle To Leave Man Utd In January Transfer Window?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Latest Act Of Petulance Brings Him Closer To His Endgame

It won’t be easy for Ronaldo find a new club in January

It’s inevitable. You can delay it with a stringent training regime, shedding every ounce of the fat, meticulously recalibrating your game, and investing in a £50,000 cryotherapy chamber, but at some point, the age will catch upon you. It’s not that Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t know that, but did you really think he’ll go down without a fight, accepting his diminished role for the greater good of the team?

 

He wasn’t going to simply accept the fact that his legs are now weary, and his presence dilutes the intensity of the whole team. Ronaldo has made a career out of defying odds, turning every adversity into opportunity, and doing things that the world told him he can’t. When he was told that he is not fit for the new manager Erik ten Hag’s methods, you can assume Ronaldo said to himself, “I’ll prove him wrong”. But perhaps there are obvious physical limitations that creep in, and no amount of ruthlessness can compensate for that.

 

Manchester United registered a resounding 2-1 win over Tottenham, but the spotlight fell more brightly on Ronaldo than on either Erik ten Hag, or the players involved in the game. Why? Because Ronaldo refused to be subbed on and stormed off to the pitch before the final whistle.

 

In the last three months, this is the second instance of Ronaldo leaving the ground midway through the game. On the first occasion, in the pre-season game against Rayo Vallecano, ten Hag felt his action was “unacceptable”. This time, though, he brushed off the question, saying he’ll deal with it later. Next day, like a strict disciplinarian, he simply struck off his name from the squad for the next game, against Chelsea on Saturday.

 

“I am the manager, I am responsible for the top sport culture here and I have to set standards and values and I have to control them. We are a team and in the team, we have values and standards and I have to control that,” said ten Hag.

 

If the signs were not clear till now, ten Hag, by overlooking him for a big-ticket fixture in which they are already missing Anthony Martial, has now made it explicit that Ronaldo is not required in his mission. Manchester United has won three games against the big-six teams – Arsenal, Tottenham, and Liverpool – without any help from Ronaldo.

 

Against Tottenham, they played arguably the best match of their season so far under Eri ten Hag. They pressed relentlessly, and totally nullified the counter-attacking threats of Antonio Conte’s team, and scored two goals without conceding any. Though the lack of a pure goal-scorer was felt on a few occasions, Ronaldo isn’t the obvious solution. He has just a goal and assists to show after spending 340 minutes on the pitch. Undoubtedly, he will score a decent number of goals if given more time on a consistent basis. But at what cost? Ten Hag’s predecessor must have realized this last year when Ronaldo ended up as the highest scorer for Manchester United, but their overall goal output saw a significant decline. He creates solutions for problems that firstly arise because of his presence only.

 

It’s not Ronaldo’s fault that he has arrived into the winter of his career. The faultline lies in his response, which is rooted in the plain denial of reality that he no longer merits being the protagonist of the football project. The acceptance will definitely go a long way. He is no longer the man around which any serious football club can revolve. He is no longer the driver who can ferry a troop of men surely on his individual excellence.

 

The fire in the belly to influence the outcome, to add a personal note to every match, is still ablaze. But does he still have the same reflex and stamina? Does he still have the versatility to mold his game to Erik ten Hag’s philosophy? These are the questions the clubs eyeing to sign him will ask in January. If his weekly salary of £400,000 and his waning ability were not enough, these acts of petulance will make the job of finding a new club even harder.

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