Manchester United failed to win a must-win game against Leicester City on Saturday, thanks to a mediocre performance that lacked firepower upfront in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence.
The 37-year-old was deemed sick by the club doctor and was absent from the game after returning from international duty this week, and it was his fellow countryman Bruno Fernandes who stepped up in the striker’s role against Leicester but failed to light up Old Trafford.
The result means that United might fall even further behind Arsenal and Tottenham in the fight for the top four, since both teams play on Sunday and Monday, but it also calls into doubt United’s record without their club star.
According to the Daily Star, Manchester United have failed to win a Premier League game this season in which Ronaldo did not start, and they have only secured one win without him in all competitions. The Portuguese star carried them through the Champions League group stages on his own and has scored several important goals against United’s fellow top-four rivals, including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham.
Although United have only lost one Premier League game without Cristiano Ronaldo, they have drawn the other six when the 37-year-old has not started. And it demonstrates that without Ronaldo, they lack the death instinct to continue winning games.
Ronaldo is United’s top scorer this season, with 18 goals in all competitions, and only Fernandes comes close with nine.
Ronaldo has been singled out this season as a concern for United due to his pressing talents and lack of consistency, and while the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is part of the problem, the Red Devils’ conundrum is that he is also a solution.
The problems at United are numerous, and they do not all revolve around Ronaldo. What is certain right now is that they are lacking in goal scorers, and the 37-year-old is definitely their sole outlet, which could cost them a key top-four berth.