Saturday 30th October 2021
The problems with Ronaldo
Man United is on a red alert
From Christian Schenzel
At Manchester United there is again a red alert. The debacle against Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool FC is the culmination of an undesirable development for the time being. It can hardly be explained that the record champions are still holding on to their coach.
The end of the term of office of a football coach is usually a gradual process. It usually starts with missing results. The first headlines are followed by critical questions, which often reveal a tense relationship between the team and the coach. Drop by drop, more and more details come to light, a new beginning then becomes inevitable at some point.
In order to stop this unstoppable process, you need a weighty word of power. A word of power, as Sir Alex Ferguson spoke a few days ago at Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is only still in office because the coaching legend intervened personally. Many experts agree that without the protection of the Scots back, the Red Devils would have pulled the rip cord long ago.
At the latest after 0-5 debacle against Liverpool no one would have been surprised anymore. On the contrary. Most of the fans even spoke out in favor of dismissing the Norwegian. In one of the most important games of the season, the team presented itself to be too lifeless, harmless, unimaginative and heartless. The way United let themselves be led to the slaughter by the Reds of all people has left deep marks on the club’s environment.
Solskjaer in the crossfire of criticism
Why the top of the club decided against a dismissal and still granted Solskjaer a grace period can hardly be explained. One possible reason: The bosses really believe that the Norwegian will pull the cart out of the mud after all. Just as he managed to qualify for the Champions League and reach the Europa League final last season.
But for that, it seems at the moment, the rift between the team and the coach has long been too deep. A rift has been reported in the English media for days. Players question Solskjaer’s personnel decisions and his tactics, it says there. And also in human terms it should simply no longer fit, report “The Athletic”, “The Telegraph” and the “Guardian” unanimously.
The greatest evil in this case is the trainer. Solskjaer’s decisions often seem like blind actionism. In search of his best team, the coach keeps rotating. Especially in midfield, he regularly throws the team into confusion. The team cannot develop a rhythm or fixed pattern as a result. And above all, it cannot become a team. “It’s a team full of individualists, not a collective,” criticized ex-professional Micah Richards.
Another accusation that the coach has to put up with is that he is sticking to a few favorites. Central defender Harry Maguire is one of them. He plays himself when he is not fit, which according to the Telegraph has already caused displeasure among some players. In addition, the England international is not one on which the others stand up. Appropriately, the Guardian judged the 28-year-old’s performance: “When he’s good, he plays excellent. And when he’s bad, he plays as amateurishly as any other top central defender.”
Manchester and the Ronaldo Problem
It is not entirely clear whether Ronaldo is also one of Solskjaer’s favorites. With the Portuguese, the Norwegian simply has no choice. CR7 has to play. Always. With the Portuguese on the field, however, the tasks of the other players also change, because in the backward movement the superstar is virtually non-existent. He never was and never will. His teammates have to iron that out. The game against Liverpool showed what happens when that doesn’t work. There Solskjaer relied on a pressing that was so poorly coordinated that the Reds found the free spaces with their eyes closed.
But the coach has no choice here. A commitment by Ronaldo, who announced on Thursday that he is expecting twins with his girlfriend Georgina, is tantamount to a commitment. That’s the way it is when you sign one of the best players of all time and a club legend. Solskjaer’s job is to incorporate the superstar in the most profitable way. So far he has failed in this task.
“Ronaldo was available, so you get him. But you are also trying to incorporate Fernandes, Pogba, Sancho, Rashford and Greenwood. Where is the balance?” Said Richards in the “BBC” interview, addressing the big problem. Solskjaer is said to have been given a grace period of one to three games to solve this problem. This, too, is not infrequently part of the process, which usually ends with one thing: dismissal.