Jamie Carragher has explained how Cristiano Ronaldo will cause “problems” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will struggle to solve at Manchester United.
The 36-year-old made a sensation return to Old Trafford this summer and has got off to a flying start, scoring three goals in two games for United.
But the striker was unable to prevent an embarrassing defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League this week and Solskjaer’s tactics in that game ramped up the pressure on his shoulders.
And Carragher doesn’t think Ronaldo’s arrival gets them any closer to winning the top prizes this season.
‘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 wrote 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.’
And Carragher believes Ronaldo’s place in the team could have a negative effect on the likes of Jadon Sancho, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, who will all now have to fit in around the Portugal international.
‘The most immediate impact is on Sancho, who is now fighting with Greenwood for his favoured position on the right. He played on the left wing in his first two United appearances, switching flanks in midweek prior to being subbed early when the team was reduced to 10 men.
‘There are also consequences for Pogba. After his encouraging start, he was back in centre-midfield against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle and for the last hour in midweek, when we saw the same flaws that have typified his United career.
‘Where will Marcus Rashford fit into the equation upon his return from injury? And then there is Edinson Cavani, who Solskjaer was talking up in his latest press conference. It sounds like the manager does not want any of his stars to feel like they are back-ups.’
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