"Nightmarish start", the Ronaldo case... but what's wrong with Manchester United?

“Nightmarish start”, the Ronaldo case… but what’s wrong with Manchester United?

A long-awaited coach who loses his first league game, a slipping transfer window and the case of Cristiano Ronaldo who monopolizes all the attention, Manchester United is living a summer as delicate as it is worrying.

Manchester United could hardly start worse. At Old Trafford, against a Brighton team who lost Cucurella and Bissouma, their two best elements, the Red Devils found themselves trailing 2-0 at the break, accompanied by boos from an exasperated public. . “It was a nightmarish start,” Harry Maguire admitted to Sky Sports after the game.

The sequence of events did not help, despite the reduction of the gap in the second period. Manchester United therefore begins its season with a first defeat, “a real disappointment” according to Erik ten Hag, who arrived with the savior costume a few weeks ago, but just as busy managing the Ronaldo case as implementing his principles. tactics. The Dutchman is the first manager of the club to lose his first Premier League match since his compatriot Louis van Gaal, in August 2014. A predecessor who did not have a memorable stint in the theater of dreams.

Bulky Ronaldo

Ten Hag will have to find answers to mark the history of Manchester in a different way. In particular to the question that has arisen for a year: Cristiano Ronaldo, beyond his goals, is he really beneficial for his team? Can the Red Devils afford to have a game centered on the Portuguese star, a formidable finisher but less and less capable of making the difference on his own? The performance of some players, Bruno Fernandes in the lead, has dropped significantly since the arrival of his compatriot.

But now, it is above all the behavior of “CR7” which is disturbing. At the end of July, during a friendly match against Rayo Vallecano, the multiple Ballon d’Or left the stadium before the end of the match. “Unacceptable” according to ten Hag, and above all a strong sign of the player’s involvement. Cristiano Ronaldo, aware that MU will not play for the title this season, has desires elsewhere. Fans delighted with his return a year ago are falling from above.

Result, the Portuguese started on the bench, this Sunday against Brighton, offering his best pout in the stands after the two goals conceded by his teammates. At the forefront, Erik ten Hag had preferred Christian Eriksen, in a role of false number 9. Ronaldo’s supporters are therefore increasingly rare. Even Gary Neville, his former teammate, feels it’s time to part ways with him.

“There is only one thing to do. We all know that, said the former England international on his show Overlap. Sometimes you have to step back to move forward. This season, Manchester may have to step back, without Ronaldo, without signing another striker, and playing with Martial again, which was unthinkable for me. Martial is talented but he has shown that he is not the centre-forward that Manchester United need in the long term. But is- isn’t it better to have him this year, motivated, rather than Ronaldo who doesn’t want to be there?”

A trampling transfer window, an offer for Arnautovic

Beyond the Ronaldo case, Manchester United is struggling to move forward in the transfer market. No big signings in attack, unlike the other five clubs in the Big Six, and an interest in Frenkie de Jong which is struggling to materialize: the activity is very limited. In addition to Christian Eriksen, who arrived free, the Red Devils have so far only managed to strengthen in defense, with Tyrell Malacia and especially Lisandro Martinez.

The Argentinian, who arrived from Ajax, has followed Erik ten Hag, his coach in recent years. But it was very expensive, close to 60 million euros, and it will not solve all the problems of Manchester. In the midfield in particular, Pogba and Matic left free, without being replaced for the moment.

And it is not the names cited by the British press that will allow an internal revolution. The Athletic announces this Sunday that the club would have made an offer to recruit Marko Arnautovic. The 33-year-old Austrian is coming off a good season at Bologna, but he has already spent six seasons in the Premier League, at Stoke and West Ham, never proving himself worthy of signing for a top club. The construction sites remain immense. At Old Trafford, dreams are not for now.

Robin Wattraint RMC Sport journalist

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