Gary Neville feels Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester United has created a ‘problem’ and limited the way in which they can play.
Ronaldo is now back at Old Trafford for a second stint after leaving the club in 2009 to move to Real Madrid. He had already shown his genius with the Red Devils but took his game to new heights with the Spanish giants. The Portugal captain then continued to defy logic and his age during three seasons with Juventus.
But the Italian adventure ended in the summer and he arrived in Manchester to much fanfare. As expected, the 36-year-old has hit the ground running at the Theatre of Dreams.
He has bagged five goals from six appearances in all competitions and looks as hungry as ever for silverware. United began the season well, with four wins from their first five top-flight games.
But Neville believes having the legend in the ranks means Ole Gunnar 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,” he said on The Overlap, per The Mirror.
“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 up front is never going to happen. He wasn’t pressing 10-15 years ago.
“So what you say then is, ‘what’s the style of Manchester United?’, well they’re a counter-attack team.”
Neville concerned with United weakness
Neville played with Ronaldo when he first graced Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009. He is a big fan of his former colleague and welcomed the man with 182 Portugal caps back to the club with open arms.
But the ex-England defender is adamant that the needs of the team should be put before any individual. And he feels certain that the current system Solskjaer employs leaves them vulnerable.
“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,” he added.
“A half-decent team against Manchester United will cut through them. That’s a problem, they’ve got to stop that.”