The 1-0 win against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Thursday was Manchester United’s third win on the trot and their second successive clean sheet.
Jadon Sancho‘s first-half strike proved to be the difference between the two sides with United dominating the first half and hardly allowing the Foxes to have the ball.
The team exhibited crisp passing and sharp movement as they ran Brendan Rodgers’ side ragged. The only thing missing from United’s display was ruthlessness as they could have scored more to guarantee the three points.
It was a difficult second-half with players tiring and not exactly displaying the same fluency.
The defence, however, stood tall and the quartet of Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Diogo Dalot and Tyrell Malacia have made it hard for those on the bench to make their comeback into the first-team fold.
CR7 makes immediate impact
The introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo helped United retain possession better and the Portuguese hitman looked sharp as he almost scored from an acrobatic overhead kick.
His movement also almost led to two United goals on the counter but Marcus Rashford could not wrap his foot around the first chance while a cross-cum-shot could not be diverted home by Christian Eriksen.
The Athletic were impressed with United’s No 7 and the hunger he displayed despite not getting his desired move to a Champions League club.
“It was a marked improvement from Southampton, where Ronaldo’s appearance off the bench carried an awkward feel,” Laurie Whitwell wrote in his piece.
Will he accept his new position?
It will not be easy for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to accept his new role as super-sub. The last time he made three consecutive appearances off the bench was back in December 2005 under Sir Alex Ferguson who thought the scrawny kid needed to mature more.
“Ronaldo established himself as an undroppable force in the 17 years since …but the Portuguese’s career arc is finally bending full circle,” the article goes on to poignantly mention.
The Portugal skipper has a huge role to play as said multiple times by Erik ten Hag and his general demeanor seems to be improving as seen from his post-match reactions.
But will he accept this new role? Can he stop being the solo performer at the age of 37 and start to perform in a group? Ten Hag certainly feels he can make the difference in a long and arduous season and it will be interesting to see how this pans out in the days to come.