Rangnick explains Ronaldo absence for Man Utd in derby defeat
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United started off in the perfect way, but the Portuguese’s second coming at Old Trafford is beginning to turn sour. That will come as no surprise to club legend Gary Neville, who correctly predicted that the superstar’s return would change little at the club.
Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Red Devils splashed out £120million last summer to secure three key targets, which included bringing Ronaldo back to the club 12 years after his departure.
The 37-year-old signed a two-year contract after leaving Juventus and was expected to have a monumental impact considering his tremendous scoring record over the past decade.
In addition to Ronaldo, Man United paid £73m to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, ending an 18-month pursuit chasing the 21-year-old.
And finally, Raphael Varane arrived in a £42m deal from Real Madrid to link up with Ronaldo again and allow United to add a world-class defender to the backline.
But as former United player Neville predicted, the signing of Ronaldo was merely an attempt to quieten the dissenting voices at the time, amid protests over their involvement in the breakaway European Super League project.
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“The Glazers have done what they normally do when they get put under pressure,” Neville told Sky Sports back in August.
“They make two or three signings and basically, it shuts people up. I think there are deep-rooted issues at United.”
At the time, Ronaldo had looked on the verge of joining Manchester City in a shock deal before United stepped in at the 11th hour to show their interest.
But Neville, 46, insists the club had no choice but to sign Ronaldo to avoid strengthening their local rivals.
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“They couldn’t let Ronaldo go to Manchester City,” he added.
“They’ve had it in the past with the likes of [Alexis] Sanchez when he was going to Man City and they stepped in.
“They had to step in at this point, whether they wanted to or not is another matter.”
Those three signings have largely failed to bring the expected impact at Old Trafford that they promised, with Ronaldo’s recent decline in terms of his goal returns raising alarms at United.
The veteran striker has scored 15 goals in all competitions but struck just once in his last 10 matches, leading him to be dropped from the starting XI under Ralf Rangnick in recent times.
The £475,000-a-week striker is thought to have been considering cutting short his stay in Manchester as United struggle in their battle to finish in the Premier League’s top four.
He did make the oversight of leaving Liverpool out of the top three, with Jurgen Klopp’s side in second and challenging for the title. And Ronaldo’s signing has hardly pleased the fans, who have become frustrated with his recent efforts.
But Neville was under no illusions that his club were not ready to challenge for the title, as this season has proved beyond doubt.
“I made the prediction on Monday Night Football that it would finish Man City, Chelsea and Man United I’m not going to change that,” he added.
“I don’t think the Ronaldo signing makes them a better team than Chelsea, who won the Champions League last season, and Man City, who were 20 points clear.”
Neville’s prediction has proved to be a bad omen as Man United are in danger of missing out on the Champions League next season.
Ralf Rangnick’s side are currently fifth, a point behind Arsenal — with the Gunners still having three more games to play — and that could be enough to convince Ronaldo to search for a new challenge elsewhere.
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