Remember when Cristiano Ronaldo’s lack of pressing apparently caused problems for Manchester United?
What a funny time it was.
The 36-year-old’s biggest impact has been felt with his goals – he has scored 14 goals in all competitions since returning to Old Trafford – but against West Ham on Saturday that was a different story.
Ronaldo frequently dropped deep to win the ball back and it was from this position that he contributed to Marcus Rashford’s last winner.
Recovering the ball from Ryan Frederick’s misjudged header, Ronaldo advanced before passing to Anthony Martial, who edged out Edinson Cavani.
Cavani squared for Rashford and the United striker did the rest.
Ronaldo’s linking game was key
We don’t often talk about Ronaldo’s link-up game but it was noticeable on Saturday.
Defenders are drawn to the Portuguese star and it frees up space elsewhere on the pitch.
Martial and Cavani exploited that against the Hammers when they came together to create the goal.
A compilation video of Ronaldo diving deep and connecting the game has now emerged and it makes for interesting viewing.
The United striker was a true playmaker, picking up the ball from various places on the pitch before finding a team-mate.
He seemed very comfortable in this role too.
We saw Ronaldo the winger and Ronaldo the hard-core striker. Is it time for Ronaldo the advanced playmaker?
Given his effectiveness against West Ham, don’t be surprised to see Ronaldo more often in these positions.
Man United fans react
The video drew many reactions from Man United supporters who expressed their opinion on the club’s Reddit page.
“It’s not something I’ve noticed before, but what jumps out at me here about Ronaldo is how perfect his passes are. Every ball is aimed straight at a team-mate,” said writes a fan.
Another said: “He’s been very effective in the last two games, diving deep and helping build the game. Proof he’s the goat as he does what is required for the atm team.”
A third added: “Yeah, those are the highlights I was expecting. As I said during the game, Ronaldo created chances today left and right playing in place of Bruno .”
West Ham have spotted Ronaldo’s positioning
West Ham noticed what Ronaldo was doing but they couldn’t stop him.
Samuel Luckhurst, Man United reporting manager for the Manchester Evening News, heard one of the analysts talk about Ronaldo’s impact just before his involvement in the goal.
Luckhurst wrote on Twitter“One of West Ham’s analysts said deep in the second half: ‘Ronaldo in that pocket is killing us again.’
“Looking at the back goal, he is in that area and draws two players towards him, freeing up space on the left for Martial and Cavani.”
Another development in Ronaldo’s evolution would be very impressive.
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