Though they needed an attack from Casemiro in the 94th minute to save a point, United were dominant for much of the game and looked much more cohesive without the five-time World Player of the Year.
Ronaldo, who has been instructed to train alone by a coach Erik ten Hag since leaving the 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur early, he has only started two Premier League games this season, the 4-0 by Brentford and the 0-0 draw with Newcastle United.
In United’s most impressive wins of the season against Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham, the 37-year-old played a total of 36 minutes.
His only decisive moment came when he scored the winning goal in the 2-1 win over Everton after Ten Hag had to turn to him when Anthony Martial came out injured.
It was his 700th goal in club football and the kind of clinical finish few of his teammates are capable of.
However, Ronaldo’s brilliant moments are becoming increasingly rare. Even in the Europa League, where he has started all four games against mediocre opponents like Sheriff Tiraspol and Omonia Nicosia, he has only scored once, and that was a penalty.
Ronaldo was United’s top scorer last season with 18 of the team’s 57 Premier League goals after returning to Old Trafford to great fanfare, 12 years after his trophy-laden stint at the club.
However, they also suffered a series of humiliating defeats, such as 5-0 at home to Liverpool and 4-1 to Watford, finishing sixth in the Premier League. In the season before his arrival, they finished second, scoring 73 goals.
POOR TEN HAG
Ten Hag’s predecessors, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, didn’t have the authority to leave Ronaldo out of the team often, but the Dutchman was ruthless against him and United must now decide what to do with their famous attacker.
They have not received any serious offers for him over the summer and while offers could be forthcoming in January, the best way to ensure he leaves is to have his contract terminated, which will cost the club around £10million according to media reports. would cost.
One argument for not letting go of Ronaldo is the lack of other attacking options, as Martial is so prone to injury. Marcus Rashford missing out on a plethora of clear opportunities lately and still failing to deliver on the big money signing Jadon Sancho.
But if they want advice, they can turn to Arsenal, who suffered a financial blow in January to split with former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after breaking coach Mikel Arteta’s disciplinary code.
Arteta, who also kicked Mesut Ozil out before his contract expired, has led Arsenal to the top of the Premier League and there is now a tangible sense of togetherness at the club.
United are showing signs of a similar revival under Ten Hag and it is becoming increasingly clear that the best way to reach their potential is to rally behind the coach, not their decorated, but descending striker.