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How Manchester United Made Such A Mess Out Of Signing Cristiano Ronaldo

Timing counts for a lot in sports and the timings involved with Cristiano Ronaldo's second spell at Manchester United have been disastrous.

United signed Ronaldo last summer when they did not need another striker.

Twelve months on, Ronaldo, 37, wants to leave Old Trafford at a point when United are worrying short on striking options.

United's move for Ronaldo in August 2022 was not premeditated. It was a reaction to him being seriously linked with a move to rivals Manchester City.

A Manchester United fan is pictured with Cristiano Ronaldo's name on his shirt and scarf at Old Trafford in September 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford got Manchester United fans very excited but it has not worked out as well as had been hoped

City were looking for a no.9 and - after admitting defeat in their bid to prise Harry Kane away from Tottenham - turned their attention to Ronaldo, who had decided he wanted to leave Juventus.

Ronaldo was an Old Trafford legend (he still is) - after scoring 118 goals in six trophy-laden seasons before departing to join Real Madrid in 2009 - and United could not face the prospect of him joining City.

So United made their move and proceeded to build their team around an aging icon, despite already having four frontmen in Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Ronaldo was objectively better than those four strikers, hence why he went on to become United's top scorer with 24 goals in 38 games last season.

But Ronaldo did not fit into United's desired style of play. Yes, he scored goals. But he did not press or track back.

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So while United had a legendary goal-getter to get on the end of their attacking moves, they effectively played with just 10 players when they did not have the ball.

Cristiano Ronaldo pictured complaining during Manchester United's 3-2 win over Tottenham in March 2022

Ronaldo was United's top scorer last season but in an unbalanced team that finished 35 points short of rivals Manchester City

But as much as Ronaldo may not fit into United desired system, they have come to rely upon him because their other striking options, for one reason or another, have stopped providing.

Cavani, who left United last month, saw his playing time limited by Ronaldo's arrival and only scored two goals in his final season at the club - 15 fewer than he netted in 2020/21.

Rashford, after scoring 20+ goals in two consecutive seasons prior to Ronaldo's return, scored just five times in 32 games last term and really seems to have lost his mojo.

Martial also had a 2021/22 season to forget, scoring just once in 11 games for United before being loaned out to Sevilla, where he netted one goal in 12 matches.

Meanwhile, Greenwood has been suspended since February after being arrested on suspicion of rape, sexual assault, making threats to kill and assault.

So United are now in a position where they are reliant on Ronaldo for goals. But he has informed United that he wishes to leave after last season was the club's worst in Premier League history.

Ultimately, Ronaldo's exit will benefit United in the long term. After all, they cannot build their team around him forever.

But it may hurt to begin with by leaving new manager Erik ten Hag with a blunt attack.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo should choose his next move very carefully.

SEE ALSO: Where Might Cristiano Ronaldo Go?