CRISTIANO RONALDO (£7.4m) is at the centre of a rumbling narrative right now, a rather tedious one.
On one side, there are those who believe the Manchester United forward’s declining mobility and minimal defensive work causes significant structural damage to the team when he’s on the pitch, resulting in poor results despite his obvious individual prowess.
Conversely, there are others who focus on the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s immense attacking output and habit of rescuing points with clutch goals and conclude his presence can only be a positive for the Red Devils – and that those who think otherwise are just trying smear Ronaldo out of jealousy.
As is generally the case with these things, the reality rests neatly in the middle.
The idea that Ronaldo’s reluctance to press completely negates the fact he averages a goal per game and therefore causes a net loss in terms of the team’s effectiveness is a tad too big-brained for its own good.
If the 36-year-old’s relatively non-existent defensive contribution was the only issue then Man United would probably be top of the league.
The notion that his hesitancy to press is a fatal weakness, one more responsible than any other factor in determining his side’s inconsistent form, seems rather far-fetched.
Not only that, those who believe wholeheartedly in this theory must surely be underestimating the value of Ronaldo’s goals.
On the flip side, it is a touch ignorant to dismiss his relative inactivity out of possession as irrelevant.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to devise a coordinated, organised defensive structure and selecting a player who presses less than any of his direct peers, as statistics indicate, undoubtedly exaggerates existing flaws.
In some instances, Ronaldo’s play style has been a factor in allowing the opposition to take more of a grasp of the game than is preferable.
However, the suggestion that Man United’s issues start and end with a non-pressing forward is far too simplistic and the idea they would be better off without a legendary figure who averages a goal every 112 minutes in the Champions League (over the course of 20 seasons) borders on nonsensical.
Imagine for a moment that Declan Rice (£3.2m) and Tomas Soucek (£3.2m) played in midfield for Man United and Thomas Tuchel was Head Coach – would such emphasis would be placed on Ronaldo’s pressing in this scenario?
Almost certainly not, he’d probably be the bookies’ favourite to win Player of the Year.
Of course, trying to convince visceral Ronaldo haters that he’s breathtakingly good is almost as futile as suggesting to delirious Ronaldo fanboys that he isn’t the best player of all time in every facet of the game.
This debate is likely to rage on for as long as individual brilliance papers over the cracks of Solskjaer’s reign at Old Trafford but Dream Team gaffers would be wise to ignore it.
The great thing about Dream Team is that it’s generally all about individual brilliance so bosses can select Ronaldo without caring one iota about Man United’s results.
As long as the prolific No7 keeps banging in goals and racking up points (81 at this stage after a massive haul of 33 this Game Week) it’s smooth sailing.
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