Man United in 2021: Ronaldo's return, Ole out and Rangnick revolution
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Just as Manchester United appeared to be turning a corner under Ralf Rangnick, Newcastle held them to a well-earned draw at St James’ Park on Monday. It was, not for the first time this season, a frustrating day for Cristiano Ronaldo. And with the Portugal international’s sulks growing more frequent, it appears he’s unable to hide his anger – just like back in 2009.
Manchester United have seen Ronaldo shine this season, with the veteran scoring 13 goals since his return from Juventus in the summer.
But while the Portugal international has been a shining light, he’s been unable to prevent his side from slipping down the Premier League table.
United went into Monday’s match with Newcastle knowing they needed to win to boost their hopes of securing Champions League qualification.
Yet they put in a dire display and, in truth, deserved to be on the losing side.
It was Edinson Cavani who prevented that from happening, with the Uruguay international scoring for just the second time this season to earn a point for his team.
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At the end of the game, however, Ronaldo was unable to hide his displeasure.
Once again the Portugal international stormed from the arena, muttering under his breath and shaking his head.
There was no acknowledgment of the fans who faced a near three-hour train journey back, no apologising for his own part in the subdued performance.
Instead, Ronaldo chose to remove himself from the field. For the third time this season.
In October, after he was left on the bench for a 1-1 draw with Everton, the 36-year-old snubbed fans by going inside.
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Though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer always wanted players to acknowledge supporters, the Portugal international preferred to be angry in private, rather than in public.
Then, against Chelsea last month, it happened again.
Ronaldo had been benched for the match at Stamford Bridge, despite scoring against Villarreal in the Champions League mere days previously.
And when United failed to win, he again walked away without paying tribute to those in the corner who sung his name with vigour.
When Ronaldo was first at Old Trafford, under Sir Alex Ferguson, he would sometimes sulk.
There were times where he’d throw his arms up into the air, fix his team-mates with an icy stair and generally walk around as if he owned the club, instead of Joel Glazer.
But it was fine because United were winning. Most of the time, at least.
These days, the club is a very different place. And Ronaldo, the serial winner and meticulous professional that he is, isn’t happy.
Who can blame him? United are a team way short of where they used to be and, more importantly, where they want to be.
They lack team spirit and leadership. The fact Harry Maguire remains captain, when his form is so bad, speaks volumes.
Ronaldo has been painted as the problem by some players and pundits yet, without him, the Red Devils’ season could be even worse.
Rangnick is unlikely to be too concerned about Ronaldo’s body language.
But it’s clear his Hollywood homecoming isn’t living up to expectations when it comes to the forward himself.
The last time Ronaldo behaved like this, he then went on to join Real Madrid.
If United find themselves in the Europa League by the end of the campaign, it’s easy to see history repeating itself again.
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