KEY POINTS

  • Ronaldo returned to Man Utd this summer
  • He has netted 5 goals in 7 games for Man Utd
  • His first spell with the club took place from 2003 to 2009

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return at Manchester United has created a problem that must be stopped, former Red Devils defender Gary Neville said. 

Ronaldo moved from Juventus to Manchester United in the final hours of the deadline day of the 2021 summer transfer window. Ronaldo is in his second stint at Old Trafford after first representing the Premier League side between 2003 and 2009. 

After joining Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side this season, the 36-year-old forward has netted five goals in seven appearances for Manchester United, across all competitions. 

However, in the last six competitive matches, the Red Devils have managed to secure only two wins. 

Neville, who played only for Manchester United throughout his playing career, believes that with Ronaldo’s return, Solskjaer’s tactics are now limited.

“With it comes big positives, but with it also comes problems. Ronaldo had to be managed shall we say. In the 2008 Barcelona semi-final away from home, Cristiano Ronaldo was shoved up front on his own, and Rooney and Ji-Sung Park were shoved wide, and Tevez was brought back to [mark] Busquests. You couldn’t carry him in the big games because he generally doesn’t work hard enough. So he’s playing up front now – you’re never going to press from the front. So the idea that Manchester United can become a pressing team with Cristiano upfront is never going to happen. He wasn’t pressing 10-15 years ago,” Neville said on YouTube show The Overlap. 

Neville played along with Ronaldo at Old Trafford during the latter’s first spell with the Red Devils. The former Red Devil right-back has also opined that Solskjaer should put the team’s needs ahead of any individual. 

“So what you say then is, ‘what’s the style of Manchester United?’, well they’re a counter-attack team. It becomes difficult when you’re playing against teams that are inferior to you most of the time. So what you get is teams like Aston Villa and Everton counter-attacking. A half-decent team against Manchester United will cut through them. That’s a problem, they’ve got to stop that,” added Neville. 

Over the years, Ronaldo has tasted success at Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Cristiano Ronaldo Photo: AFP / Oli SCARFF