Cristiano Ronaldo concern could actually lead Manchester United to their next great striker
New Man United manager Erik ten Hag needs to ensure Ronaldo’s workload is properly managed next season.
Since the end of the season, a number of Manchester United players have been away on international duty.
Erik ten Hag’s United will begin pre-season on June 27th, but he has conceded that players who have been away on international duty will need at least three weeks of rest. However, there are still question marks over whether this will be enough time for them to recuperate ahead of what will be a gruelling first campaign under the Dutch manager.
Ten Hag’s intense training sessions, however, are just the start of the problem. With an international break in September and the 2022 Qatar World Cup starting in November, the fixture congestion will likely lead to burnout issues within the squad.
In the past, one flaw of Ten Hag’s management has been his reluctance to heavily rotate his teams even when it is clear that certain players need a rest. He will need to learn this if United are to make positive steps in the 2022/23 season.
One position where this will likely become a problem is up top. Cristiano Ronaldo is 37, and though he has claimed that he has the body and fitness levels of someone much younger, having to play two games a week throughout the entire season will likely take its toll.
Ronaldo suffered a goal drought last season when Ralf Rangnick was first appointed and many fans theorised it was due to him needing to play 90 minutes in most games, with Edinson Cavani’s constant injuries and Antony Martial being loaned out meaning Rangnick had a severe lack of options. When United exited the Champions League and their fixture list thinned out a little, the Portuguese forward significantly improved.
So what are United’s options? Well, firstly they can dip into the transfer market. The club were interested in a deal for Darwin Nunez before Benfica’s asking price was deemed too high and Liverpool swooped in with Champions League football to offer, but there are still other options available.
With rotation necessary next season, any striker arriving this summer will not have to concede to just spending a season on the bench playing the odd game until Ronaldo leaves. They could still play a significant role despite Ronaldo looking set to remain at Old Trafford. However, the cost-efficient route would be to either play Martial or Marcus Rashford and hope Ten Hag can help them return to their best form.
Some have worried that the presence of Ronaldo would mean United would be unable to recruit a top centre-forward. However, the need to avoid burnout could help United find or potentially rediscover their next great forward.