Cristiano Ronaldo goalscoring truth is becoming harder for Manchester United to ignore
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal of 2022 on Tuesday, helping Manchester United end a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over Brighton.
Ralf Rangnick’s team produced a far from classic performance, with the Seagulls proving to be a tough and resilient outfit to beat, particularly before Lewis Dunk’s red card.
Early in the second half, though, some aggressive pressing by Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes resulted in a costly turnover for the visitors deep within their own half. Ronaldo pounced on the loose ball and raced at the Brighton defence before unleashing a shot past the helpless Robert Sanchez.
That was Ronaldo’s tenth league goal of the season, and possibly his most significant. Not only because it ended a stalemate in an important match for United, but also because it relieved the weight that had been growing on the Portuguese’s shoulders in recent weeks.
United’s shaky recent results has sparked outrage among fans, with Rangnick and other important players being questioned.
Despite all that Ronaldo has accomplished in the game, he has been unable to escape some of the criticism directed at the team, and bigger questions have been asked about whether his abilities are finally beginning to decline.
The fact that Ronaldo, at the age of 37, can still compete at this level is a credit to his own discipline, work ethic, and ability. United Airlines, on the other hand, has made modifications to accommodate him.
He’s currently regarded solely as a striker, with little if any influence in other areas. This is OK as long as he remains a merciless finisher.
However, when compared to league competitors over the course of the season, his current goalscoring record and, to be honest, his finishing record look quite average.
Nobody has attempted more shots for United this season than Ronaldo, who has 73. Bruno Fernandes is ranked second on the list with 53 points.
United have tried 346 shots, which means Ronaldo is involved in almost one out of every four to five attempts, which is a significant chunk.
Despite this, his goal conversion rate from such efforts is only 12.3%. He is ranked 40th out of 72 Premier League forwards who have played over 1000 league minutes this season.
Obviously, with the second-highest amount of shots taken within that set of players, his conversion percentage will always be lower than that of players who have attempted less attempts on goal. Even yet, for a player of his calibre, that conversion rate is far lower.
In comparison, Mohamed Salah is the only Premier League player who has tried more shots than Ronaldo this season (81), yet his conversion rate of 19.8% is only 15th in the league.
Ronaldo’s total of nine league goals — just seven of which came from open play — isn’t the type of return United fans would have expected when he signed at the start of the season, and while he’ll always be a fan favourite, evidence is mounting that his finishing efficiency is deteriorating.