Jamie Carragher outlined the “brutally honest” truth about why Man Utd signed Cristiano Ronaldo, and claimed two high profile stars have been negatively impacted as a result.
On the surface, the return of Ronaldo to Old Trafford has got off to a flying start. The Portuguese veteran bagged a brace on his re-debut versus Newcastle before scoring again versus Young Boys on Tuesday. Man Utd would ultimately lose that match in the final seconds, with a host of Man Utd players underwhelming in the contest.
And writing in his column for the Daily Telegraph, Liverpool legend Carragher has dampened the elevated Man Utd mood with a sobering assessment of Ronaldo’s return.
“Ronaldo, his signing causes as many problems as it solves for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer,” wrote Carragher. “Ronaldo could prove to be a better signing for the Premier League than for Manchester United.
“I am certain Ronaldo will challenge Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku for this season’s golden boot.
“As we saw last weekend against Newcastle United on his second United debut, Ronaldo’s mere presence is a certainty of goals, and his comeback has transformed the mood at his club and raised the profile of English football even more.
“But 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.
“On the evidence of the first few games, albeit they have won three of their first five matches, I would say no. Ronaldo’s match-winning ability will inevitably make United stronger. What his arrival alone cannot do is turn United into a title-winning unit or impose the distinctive way of playing they still lack.
“That must be a concern for United fans because the transitional era should be over.”
The triple arrival of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Ronaldo has provided Solskjaer with proven winners and a sprinkling of stardust. However, Carragher believes Man Utd will struggle to bring the best out of Sancho and Paul Pogba in particular following Ronaldo’s return.
Ronaldo will stifle Pogba and Sancho – Carragher
Carragher continued: “Solskjaer and his coaches must spend hours deliberating on the various permutations with every line-up. Despite the obvious benefits of having a playing pool with such depth, occasionally a manager has too much choice.
“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.
“If we are brutally honest about it, Man Utd only moved for Ronaldo once they heard Manchester City were going to buy him.
“If they had gone into the summer transfer window prioritising a centre-forward, they would have signed one before paying £72.9 million for Jadon Sancho.
“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. That’s when we saw the same flaws that have typified his United career.”