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Friday, December 3, 2021

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Cristiano Ronaldo demands could influence Manchester United managerial decision – Manchester Evening News

When Cristiano Ronaldo stated he has ‘unfinished business’ when he completed a sensational return to Manchester United in the summer transfer window, it is safe to say he didn’t mean qualifying for the Europa League after a career of being overindulged in genuine success.

A pathetic performance against Man City over the weekend has piled even more pressure onto manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United enter the November international break surrounded by sackings in the Premier League and well aware of the issues that continue to plague them.

This time of year is usually a popular one to make a managerial change given there isn’t another international break until March and so any new appointment has the best part of two weeks to implement their beliefs before a return to action.

If United really do want to make a change, then they will need to do it quick.

Part of the issue for United is there is no obvious standout candidate to replace Solskjaer, yet after the manner of their no-show against City on Saturday there is strong argument to bringing the current misery to an end — regardless of what the contingency plan might be.

The summer signings of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Ronaldo were supposed to propel United towards the Premier League this season, but instead they find themselves in sixth-place heading into the November internationals and already nine points off leaders Chelsea.

In the past two seasons such a start wouldn’t have been so disastrous for the manager but given the summer signings and their demands it is now inconceivable for United to classify a mere top-four finish as a successful season, even if they added an improbable FA Cup win to it.

The ugly truth is that for United’s controversial owners money still dictates the success of the club and as long as United are among the riches of Champions League football then alarm bells are unlikely to ring quite so loud for the Glazers.

An optimist would argue United are still only five points off Liverpool ahead of matches against Chelsea and Arsenal following the international break, two games which could easily alter the mood at Old Trafford — though such naivety has been United’s downfall in recent years and fails to address the reoccurring issues at play.

The addition of serial winners Ronaldo and Varane in the summer window signalled the genuine intent United had of success this season. But with their arrival comes the added demand to win silverware and a necessity to make ruthless calls regarding the direction of the club.

Nearly three years into the job, there are still huge questions regarding Solskjaer’s credentials at an elite level — as emphatically exposed by Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola in recent weeks — while there are also doubts regarding the coaching staff and the belief they are still largely learning on the job.

No matter what happens, the Norwegian should be considered a genuine success in terms of stabilising a sinking ship at United; he restored happiness and self-belief, though he is now the one in need of a life ring as their season begins to plummet after only just leaving harbour.

In past years such inconsistency probably would have been overlooked but after signing two world-class players addicted to winning trophies such inadequacy simply won’t cut it anymore.

Ole is still at the wheel, though he is taking United around in circles.

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