According to Gary Neville, Manchester United’s supposed strategy of signing Cristiano Ronaldo to pacify the club’s fanbase has failed.
Last summer, the Portuguese superstar made a sensational Old Trafford comeback, coming from Juventus 12 years after leaving for Real Madrid.
United reportedly swooped in to steal the five-time Ballon d’Or winner from Manchester City’s grasp, much to the delight of the club’s supporters.
However, considering the club’s recent troubles, United’s fans’ pre-season expectations have been replaced with persistent discontent, and this weekend’s defeat has just added to the problem.
On Sunday, United were humiliated 4-1 by City at the Etihad, drawing considerable condemnation from analysts and fans alike.
The Red Devils’ latest defeat, along with Arsenal’s victory against Watford, has dropped Ralf Rangnick’s team to fifth in the Premier League table, a point behind the Gunners despite having played three more games.
The resigning of Ronaldo was viewed as a key step by United in attempt to close the gap on City, Liverpool, and Chelsea at the top of the league, but Neville had a different opinion.
The former United right-back stated that the club’s owners, the Glazer family, tried to hush United’s fanbase by signing Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, and Jadon Sancho, but that it only “papered over the fractures.”
“The Glazers have done what they usually do when they’re under pressure,” Neville said in August to Sky Sports. “They make two or three signings, which effectively silences the audience.
“I believe United has long-standing problems.
“They were unable to allow Ronaldo to join Manchester City. They’ve had it before with players like [Alexis] Sanchez, when he was on his way to Man City, and they intervened.
“They had no choice but to intervene at this point, whether they wanted to or not. With the three players they have this summer, no Man United fan can grumble.”
The ostensible attempt to pacify the club’s supporter base has clearly backfired, with United currently sitting fifth in the Premier League table, 22 points behind league leaders City.
While some have been surprised by United’s decline, it was something Neville expected at the outset of the season.
Back then, Neville predicted that his previous club would mislead this season, with Ronaldo’s signing doing little to improve their prospects of winning the Premier League.
“On Monday Night Football, I predicted that Man City, Chelsea, and Man United would finish first, second, and third, respectively. That is not going to change.
“I don’t believe the addition of Cristiano Ronaldo elevates them over Chelsea, who won the Champions League last season, and Man City, who were 20 points ahead.”
As the club’s predicament deepens, United fans are becoming increasingly agitated.