There is one thing that was on Josep Guardiola’s mind when he took his team, Manchester City, to Old Trafford tonight. This is how local striker Cristiano Ronaldo is not a source of threat to his team.
With 9 goals scored in 11 appearances, Ronaldo has shown his qualities as the best player in the world. At 36, the Portuguese player is still capable of showing a high scoring instinct.
In the last two games, Ronaldo has become a hero for the “Red Devils”. Cut first time it was so beautiful against Tottenham Hotspur became the first game of Manchester United’s 3-0 victory over the host team. Last Tuesday CR-7 took another kick first time to force the Atalanta hosts to a 2-2 draw.
“They have one of the greatest players in history. Ronaldo is really a goal machine,” Guardiola said praising Ronaldo.
Tonight Guardiola is really hoping his kids will show their best game. Only with that, the citizens may prevent Ronaldo from freely scoring goals.
The Spanish coach realized that it was not an easy task to tame Ronaldo. Despite having only had two days off before heading into tonight’s derby, Guardiola vows to do his best to ensure his side are not beaten by their neighbors.
The biggest problem facing the “red devils” themselves is consistency. Coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has failed to build a complete and reliable squad.
Although the Glazer family invested such a large budget, Solskjaer has not been able to optimize the capabilities of its players. Practically only three players are able to perform consistently, namely Ronaldo, Mason Greenwood and goalkeeper David de Gea.
With just three players still looking excellent, that’s certainly not enough for Manchester United to compete with other clubs. No need to be surprised if the “Red Devils” were to lose 0-5 to Liverpool, 2-4 to Leicester City and 0-1 to Aston Villa. Even in the Champions League they were beaten by Young Boys 1-2 and in the Carabao Cup they were eliminated by West Ham 0-1.
The weak point of the ‘Red Devils’ is in the last row. Team captain Harry Maguire even became the weakest point easily losing the ball in the penalty area, taking positions poorly and often late to intercept the opponent’s attack.
Two full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw are also often late to protect their defensive zone so that Manchester United’s goal is easy for opponents to break. It’s no surprise that De Gea’s goal has been conceded 15 times in the first 10 matches.
The only reliable in the last row is the French player Raphaël Varane. However, the player who was taken out from Real Madrid has often had to miss due to a groin injury.
In midfield, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay played inconsistently. At one point, they can be so beautiful, but then they can make unnecessary mistakes. Pogba even received a red card when he came on against Liverpool.
Other players like Fred often seem out of control. Likewise Nemanja Matic who slows down. A young player that Solskjaer missed is Donny van de Beek. As a result, Bruno Fernandes often did not have enough ball supplies and had to descend deep to pick up the ball.
Up front, the expensive player brought in from Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho, is also still below par. As a result, Manchester United’s attacks are often crippled as they only rely on Greenwood on the right wing. Fortunately, Marcus Rashford is starting to recover from his shoulder injury, so he can sometimes show up even if he is not stable.
After the humiliating loss to Liverpool, Solskjaer opted to play more defensively using a 5-3-2 pattern. Three center back Maguire-Varane-Victor Lindelof or Eric Bailly are sent down to close the middle hole. Shaw and Wan-Bissaka were used to guard the flanks and at the same time help the three attacking midfielders.
The defensive midfielder was ceded to McTominay, while Fernandes and Fred or Pogba were more involved in supplying the ball to attacking duo Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani. The two seasoned attackers can be a formidable force when supporting each other.
After seeing the last two appearances, Solskjaer seems to be comfortable with the model. Especially to face the citizens very varied in attack. They not only have wingers like Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez, but also deadly attacking midfielders, be it Kevin de Bruyne, Bernando Silva or Ilkay Guendogan.
The two-forwards model was applied by coach Alex Ferguson when the “Red Devils” paired Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. It takes two active wing strikers like Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, as well as attacking midfielders like Paul Scholes. That’s what Solskjaer needs to find at Manchester United right now.
The unity of the team must also be able to be maintained so that it is not too far between the attackers in front and the players behind. Facing Spurs, Maguire and his friends were much more consistent than when they appeared against Liverpool.
If the ‘Red Devils’ may seem more compact, it is not impossible that they are like Arsenal who have recovered after being beaten by Manchester City. Above all the citizens themselves are in a shaky trend after being knocked out by West Ham in the Carabao Cup and beaten by Crystal Palace 0-2 last week.
Guardiola has still not found a reliable spearhead. Forced, up to 10 Premier League games, his team played with false nine with Gabriel Jesus, Foden or De Bruyne taking turns replacing the number 9 or the center forward.
At the back, Guardiola relies heavily on team captain Ruben Dias. With John Stones or Aymerta Laporte, he was really put to the test to be able to control his compatriot and senior, Ronaldo.
With two forwards at Manchester United, the work of defensive midfielder Rodrigo Hernandez is crucial to prevent the citizens suffered a third consecutive defeat in England. Manchester City’s journey to defend the title gets harder and harder if you have to swallow a bitter pill again.
“A 3-0 win against Spurs and a draw against Atalanta shouldn’t make us complacent. We have to keep improving and I think we can because we have a team full of talent. ‘you just have to focus, keep improving to get better and better, “Shaw told colleagues. Manchester United’s revival must start against the citizens this evening.