Ronaldo ‘defensive pressing’ issue isn’t new – Mourinho had to ‘hide’ him in big games at Real Madrid, claims Carragher

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United against Atalanta
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United against Atalanta

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo won’t be able to get Manchester United closer to winning the Premier League or Champions League.

The Portuguese superstar has been called out in recent times for his lack of defensive action in attack and his lack of pressing said to be harming the team.

However, according to the former-defender-turned-pundit, Ronaldo’s lack of defensive involvement is nothing new. 

Speaking to Sky Sports after Liverpool’s 5-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday, Carragher said that Jose Mourinho had to ‘hide’ Ronaldo in particular games at Real Madrid.

‘When he played in Gary’s (Neville) team around 2008-2009, Ronaldo was having to play up front then. He didn’t do it then, he didn’t do it at Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho.” Carragher said.

“When they were playing Barcelona. He had to devise a plan to hide Ronaldo if you like. You can still work with a player like Ronaldo.

“The criticism that has maybe upset him is Ronaldo’s been successful everywhere he’s been. He will score 25-30 goals but I don’t think that takes United closer to the title or the Champions League. I don’t understand the focus on him now as he’s always been that type of player.” 

Meanwhile, another SkySports pundit Graeme Souness believes that Ronaldo won’t make United a better team.

The Red Devils added Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, to their squad this summer but have struggled for consistency in the early stages of the season.

According to Souness, Ronaldo should be left out of the starting lineup on some occasions to give the team better balance.

“No. I think Man United have a major problem as they have to play in a way Ole doesn’t want to play.” Souness said.

“They can’t be that high pressing team that Liverpool are, that Man City are. If one person doesn’t commit to the press, you have to be instant. They have to play a different brand of football.

“He’ll score goals and excite the crowd. Liverpool will be able to pass their way out from the back. Would you still take him? Yes, I would, but the conversation would be, you’re not starting every game.”

But Ronaldo’s former teammate Gary Neville suggested that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should consider playing Edinson Cavani alongside Ronaldo up front.

“United have to find a way of playing,” he said.

“I think he needs a focal point alongside him like Cavani. He needs someone up there. Manchester City defies logic by having Foden up front but every other team has a focal point.”