Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance in Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Arsenal indicates that the Portuguese superstar is feeling the pressure of Ralf Rangnick’s arrival
Cristiano Ronaldo already appears to be feeling the pressure ahead of Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick taking charge for the first time – as the veteran star put on a show for his new boss in United’s 3-2 win over Arsenal on Thursday night.
Ronaldo’s brace helped fire United to a much-needed win to round off Michael Carrick ‘s brief stint in charge before Rangnick steps in.
The German coach was watching on from the stands at Old Trafford after he was appointed earlier this week.
And it appears that it has presence has already had the desired effect on United’s Portuguese superstar, who turned in one of his most impressive performances of the season.
With speculation over whether or not Ronaldo will fit into Rangnick’s aggressive pressing philosophy, the 36-year-old could hardly have picked a better, or more convenient, time to run himself into the ground; almost doubling his usual number of pressing sequences against the Gunners.
Matthew Peters/Manchester United)
The stat from OptaJoe read: “Cristiano Ronaldo made 27 pressures last night against Arsenal, his most in any league game this season, previously averaging 14.4 per 90. He made 16 pressures in the attacking third, more than five times as many as in his previous league start against Watford (3).”
The debate surrounding Ronaldo has rumbled on this season despite the veteran topping United’s scoring charts across all competitions.
Whether rightly or wrongly, Ronaldo has garnered a lot of the blame for United’s inconsistent form this term – with some fans and pundits insisting that his lack of pressing ability has hampered United’s season.
It’s easy to see, given this accusation, why Rangnick’s arrival could unnerve even Ronaldo.
The veteran coach has affectionately been dubbed as ‘The Godfather of Gegenpressing’ over the years and his intense, aggressive style of play is a huge contrast to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ‘s gameplan.
Given his age, it’s likely that Ronaldo could struggle more than most to adapt to Rangnick’s demanding style.
Those suspicions only grew when Ronaldo was benched by Carrick for last Sunday’s clash with Chelsea, with some feeling that Rangnick had an input on the team.
Although his performance against Arsenal should go some way to quashing that talk, it will be tough on Ronaldo to match that output week to week given his 27 pressures amount to pretty much double the amount he’s averaged throughout the season.
But his impressive cameo should certainly give Rangnick food for thought; something that he himself alluded to after the match when he hailed Ronaldo’s unbelievable fitness.
And Rangnick dropped the biggest hint yet that Ronaldo will continue to have a big part to play under him.
“You always have to adapt your style to the players you have available, not vice versa. I have never seen a player at Cristiano’s age so physically fit,” remarked Rangnick on Friday morning at his delayed unveiling to the press.
“What I saw from him yesterday, he’s more than willing to do what it takes to help the team.”
He also added: “The players have to buy into the idea of how we should play in the future.
“It has to happen step by step, not in one or two sessions, but I’m more than happy with the quality of players we have here.”