Amid a goalless drought, the Portuguese appears isolated months after the fanfare of his return – and the ex-player feels he must shoulder the blame
Cristiano Ronaldo is setting a poor example to the rest of Manchester United, says former player Paul Ince, who believes that the superstar forward has drawn too much attention from the rest of his team-mates.
The veteran forward made a much-heralded homecoming at the start of the season to the club where he made his name, but his Old Trafford homecoming has gradually morphed into a nightmare in recent months, having now endured his longest barren run for over a decade.
The 37-year-old has cut an increasingly conflicted figure since, and while Ince acknowledged that the Portuguese is now a different man to the player who first graced the club, his attitude has nevertheless failed to inspire influence around a group struggling for form.
“This is not the Ronaldo of 19 years ago when he was first at Old Trafford – this is a 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo,” Ince told Genting Casino. “When people say he’ll be great for the club and the youngsters, you’d have thought that would be the case.
“But he’s walking off down the tunnel and throwing his toys out the pram. For me that’s a bad example. This is someone at the end of his career and if he can’t start against Burnley who are bottom of the table there’s something seriously wrong. It should be about the team, but it’s now become all about Ronaldo.”
The ex-Red Devils man was willing to cut a little more slack for club captain Harry Maguire however, adding: “Maguire’s not the quickest but he’s still a top player. He gets no protection from the midfield. If I was playing in that midfield with Roy Keane, Maguire wouldn’t be getting isolated all the time.”
While the Red Devils have seen a dramatic outlay in recruitment costs over the past decade, their habits have failed to produce consistent success – and Ince feels that a failure to identify essential talents before they break big is a major weakness that has crippled them.
“You have to look at United’s recruitment,” he added. “They didn’t know about [Yves] Bissouma, now he’s at Brighton. They didn’t know about [NGolo] Kante, now he’s at Chelsea. All these players have been about but why have United not spotted them?
“They need to get someone like Bissouma because the midfield needs to change. Fred’s not the answer, McTominay is one of those who’s a good player but would be better with someone like Bissouma next to him. Is Pogba going to stay? I can’t see it.”