Obviously, the signing of Ronaldo raised the expectation levels. In Ole’s first two seasons, Man Utd finished 2nd and 3rd but after signing Sancho and Ronaldo, they were expected to challenge for the title.
The other factor is that Ronaldo might be one of the world’s greatest players ever but he was never a good defensive player. Gary Neville has spoken about how a young Ronaldo would go missing in defence and leave him at right-back exposed, he said he tolerated this when Ronaldo was scoring freely and creating goals because his contributions won United a lot of games but it still happened.
Ronaldo is now 36. He’s obviously not as fit or fast as he was (but still phenomenally so). He doesn’t press in the way that modern forwards are expected to. Cavani is 34 and doesn’t either. Nor does Rashford.
I believe this is why Ole played Fred in midfield, two defensive midfielders to compensate for United’s attackers being unable to press. This had the knock-on consequence of United leaving a creative player as talented as Van Der Beek on the bench and being stale and boring.
So Ronaldo’s arrival created the conditions for Ole to get sacked but there is also the question of whether Ronaldo had anything to do with this decision. Now clearly Ronaldo is a player that has only really played for the top clubs and expects to win trophies every year, he didn’t come to Man Utd to finish mid-table. We’ve seen pictures of Ronaldo “coaching” the side from the touchlines, there were stories in the press about Ronaldo giving the team talk at half-time, there were stories about “senior players” being unhappy with Ole’s coaching.
Did Ronaldo ask the board to fire Ole? We don’t know as yet and won’t know until all the autobiographies start to be published some 10 years or so in the future. But my view is that he probably did have a role in this though I don’t think he would have been the only player lobbying for Ole’s sacking.
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