Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines on Thursday as Manchester United suffered a shock home defeat to Real Sociedad in the Europa League opener. Erik Ten Hag suffered his first defeat in UEFA club competition as Manchester United manager.
It was not all roses for Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United as the Red Devils suffered a shocking 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad in their 2022/23 Europa League opener. Manchester United conceded a controversial penalty a few minutes into the second half. David Sylva’s shot had bounced off Lisandro Martinez’s legs into his arms, a scene most pundits argued is not a penalty.
The penalty was awarded. Braiz Mendez converted it to give Real Sociedad their first-ever win over an English club in the competition. The win also ended Manchester United’s unbeaten home record in the competition.
Erik Ten Hag made a swift change in the starting IX compared to his previous four competitive matches. Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire played full 90 minutes, making some Man United fans throw shades on Ten Hag over his reversion to what they called ‘the losing lineup’ with Cristiano Ronaldo upfront and Harry Maguire at the center-back.
In a somber atmosphere at Old Trafford tempered with the news of Queen Elizabeth’s death, Manchester United were totally tardy, putting up a fiat and unimpressive performance against the visitors. Despite an abysmal performance, Ronaldo was evidently a threat to Real Sociedad’s defense. His fizzing shot from 20 yards went over the bar. He also had a bullet header bounced into the net but was ruled offside. Nevertheless, he has yet to score for the Red Devils, as this season’s poor form continues.
For the first time in 4 competitive games, Erik Ten Hag played Cristiano Ronaldo for the full 90 minutes of the game. The team struggled at the front, with Ronaldo marshaling the frontline. The Portugal international is yet to recreate his brilliant goal-scoring abilities for Manchester United this season.
He came off the bench in Manchester United’s opening Premier League match against Brighton. The Red Devils lost 2-1 to Graham Potter’s men. Ronaldo played the full 90 minutes against Brentford in Manchester United’s second Premier League fixture, and it was a thumping 4-0 defeat; all goals scored in the first 35 minutes of the match. Erik Ten Hag returned him to the Bench against Liverpool, starting Marcus Rashford upfront, and the team won 2-1.
Erik Ten Hag repeated a similar starting lineup in the following three matches against Southampton, Leicester, and Arsenal, with Ronaldo starting from the bench. The team amassed a maximum of 9 points, winning all the matches, including a tremendous 3-1 victory over Arsenal.
Erik Ten Hag reverted to a different lineup against Real Sociedad, with Ronaldo in the starting IX, and it was a disaster. Pundits have opined that Ronaldo had a chance to reawaken his dwindling fortunes at Old Trafford with the Europa League tournament. Ronaldo fling away a golden opportunity to convince Erik ten Hag and fight his place back to the starting lineup as the Red Devils suffered a shock defeat to Real Sociedad.
After a return to Old Trafford, Ronaldo scored 24 goals for the Red Devils last season. Despite hauling in the goals for the team, Man United finished in the 6th position with only Europa League football on the table. He had opted for an exit which failed woefully as no club placed a bid for him.
After squandering an opportunity to impress Erik Ten Hag, Ronaldo may likely be returned to the bench again. Although the Red Devils may improve this season, it is evident that Ronaldo may have little or no role to play in the team under Erik Ten Hag.
Watch Spotlights Of Ronaldo’s Performance Against Real Sociedad below: