Cristiano Ronaldo has been warned that he is going to have to “change the way he plays” in order to remain a talismanic presence for Manchester United under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, with the Portuguese still coming to terms with the fact that he was named on the bench for a trip to Chelsea.
Caretaker coach Michael Carrick has been quick to rubbish any talk of unrest in the Red Devils camp after seeing his No.7 head straight down the tunnel at the end of a 1-1 draw in west London, with an all-time great merely rotated out of his plans as a different approach was favored.
There is every chance that Ronaldo will be returned to United’s starting XI for another heavyweight Premier League clash with Arsenal on Thursday, but Kleberson – a former Old Trafford team-mate of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner – believes he will need to offer more to the collective cause if Rangnick is to be convinced of his worth.
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What has been said about Cristiano Ronaldo?
Kleberson, who was speaking in association with Paddy Power, has told GOAL of the debate regarding Ronaldo’s value and whether he does enough off the ball in order to figure prominently under Rangnick: “Cristiano Ronaldo can help Manchester United; he’s a leader and he can help the other players as well.
“There was a moment in the Chelsea game when they had a chance late on and Ronaldo tracked the full-back and tried to intercept the Chelsea cross. He tries to help Manchester United, but these are tough moments for them. It hasn’t been a great season.
“I understand how frustrated he gets. His reaction is normal for a player who is not starting or is subbed early. They’re never going to be happy with that. But Ronaldo is going to have to change the way he plays so that he helps the team more because that is what Manchester United need to get back to the top of the table.”
The Brazilian added on the frustration which appeared to boil over when Ronaldo opted not to acknowledge the traveling support in United’s last outing: “Cristiano Ronaldo was just frustrated at the end of the game when he headed straight down the tunnel.
“It wasn’t aimed at the supporters or manager. He came off the bench and they drew the game. Chelsea had more of the ball and more dangerous chances, all of the top players would be annoyed and frustrated by that.”
Manchester United’s bigger picture
Ronaldo was introduced in the 64th minute against Chelsea, with Jorginho canceling out an effort from Jadon Sancho shortly after that change was made.
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He made little impact on proceedings, despite netting 10 times through 15 appearances since returning to Manchester over the summer, and Kleberson – who was signed by United alongside Ronaldo back in 2003 – can understand why a man that demands such high standards will be feeling disappointed at present.
He added, with interim boss Rangnick – who will see things through to the end of the 2021-22 campaign – about to open another new era for the 13-time Premier League champions: “It was surprising to see Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for Manchester United. Everyone would have been surprised at Michael Carrick’s decision. I started to question what Manchester United actually want when they’ve bought in the best player in the world, only to leave him on the bench in the big games.
“But, once the game started and listening to Carrick after the game about his game plan, it made sense. It was a brave decision to make, but he wanted to give other players an opportunity. It’s important to mention that he didn’t just bench Ronaldo, but he also benched other key players.
“His plan for the team worked well though, it made United defensively stronger, which has been one of their biggest problems this season. After the game, I understood Carrick’s decision.
“Ronaldo’s reaction is normal – no one wants to sit on the bench. All players want to play, and every player prepares to give their all and when you hear that you aren’t starting, it’s tough to take. Players will all react the same, his reaction was normal. Ronaldo wasn’t happy and that was clear, but after the first goal, he still ran to his teammates to celebrate.
“I understand his frustration as he wants to play every game.”
United will play host to Arsenal on Thursday sat tenth in the English top-flight table, five points adrift of their midweek opponents and 15 behind leaders Chelsea.