Cristiano Ronaldo could hand Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer an attacking dilemma after his three ‘simple’ reasons for loving team-mate Mason Greenwood emerged.
The legendary forward has scored three times in the last two games to help save Solskjaer’s job but he could hand him a fresh issue as the Norwegian seeks further improvement from his side.
The veteran scored a stunning volley in United’s 3-0 thrashing of Tottenham last weekend, which preserved Solskjaer’s time in the dugout. Another defeat after the 5-0 thumping of Liverpool would surely have seen the iconic former forward dismissed.
Ronaldo struck again in midweek, twice equalising against Atalanta in the Champions League to earn an important point.
His second equaliser came in second half added-time as Solskjaer faced suffering a third defeat in five matches.
The United boss switched from his usual 4-3-3 to a back five for the win over Spurs and then again for the draw in Italy. In both matches he used two strikers, with Edinson Cavani alongside Ronaldo in north London before Marcus Rashford partnered the Portuguese in Europe.
There has not yet been a place for Greenwood since the change in formation despite Ronaldo reportedly enjoying playing with the England forward.
The 20-year-old, who was born only 11 months before his team-mate made his Sporting Lisbon debut, has been reduced to substitute appearances in both fixtures.
According to The Athletic, Ronaldo has three ‘simple’ reasons for enjoying playing alongside Greenwood.
The former Real Madrid star is at his best when playing alongside ‘straightforward, sensible and reliable’ team-mates.
United coaches believe that Greenwood is the most consistent and predictable in terms of his actions on the pitch, with Ronaldo able to tell what the youngster will do with the ball.
However, Greenwood’s chances will likely be limited if Solskjaer chooses to play with just two attackers.
Cavani was excellent against Spurs and has surely moved up Solskjaer’s pecking order. Rashford’s return from back surgery puts him back in contention. Either could start against Manchester City on Saturday.
That could leave Greenwood having to prove that he can continue his promising relationship alongside Ronaldo with limited substitute minutes.
Solskjaer has started Ronaldo in each of the club’s last three games, having risked angering the striker after leaving him on the bench for the draw with Everton last month.
The United boss compared Ronaldo to NBA legend Michael Jordan after his brace at Atalanta.
“We all have our roles and responsibilities. Of course, Cristiano is a leader in the group but that’s what he does: he scores goals,” Solskjaer remarked after the game.
“We’re not happy conceding two goals. Both of them are very, very fine margins.
“I think the first one should be offside, the second he’s a centimetre onside, maybe offside last season. It’s fine margins.
“But he does provide those moments and I’m sure the Chicago Bulls didn’t mind having Michael Jordan either.
“Sometimes teams have the players they have and that’s why they are Man Utd, that’s why they are champions at the Chicago Bulls. You just come up with those moments.”