Ronaldo started four Premier League games this season so obviously Marcus Rashford was sending a ‘message’ with his ninth goal of the campaign. Yawn.
Do Ron, Ron, Ron
‘MAYBE that need to fill Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring boots isn’t quite as desperate as they all thought,’ begins Phil Thomas’ match report from Manchester United in The Sun.
As who all thought, Phil? We remembered that Manchester United had scored six goals in two games before the World Cup break. And we remembered that a list of leading Manchester United goalscorers for the season read – before the 2-0 win over Burnley – Rashford (8), Martial (4), Fernandes, Antony, Sancho, Ronaldo (3).
Manchester United could absolutely use a striker in January but let’s not pretend that ‘filling Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring boots’ is the problem here; his goalscoring boots were pretty much empty.
As for Rashford, Thomas describes him as ‘tireless, terrific and a non-stop bundle of energy’, writing that he ‘hit the ground running, picked up pace as the evening went on and capped his wonderful display with arguably the finest goal of his life’.
Which might come as a surprise to his colleague Ian Tuckey who wrote that Rashford was ‘not at his liveliest in the first half after returning from the World Cup’.
Tuckey also wrote that this was ‘mainly…an opportunity for Ten Hag to see how much the Red Devils miss Cristiano Ronaldo up front’.
We’re pretty sure Ten Hag would have seen that in United’s previous two games without Ronaldo which they won 4-2 and 2-1, fella.
But why write about Manchester United winning an actual game of football when you can bang on about Ronaldo, who last scored for Manchester United in late October?
‘Man Utd verdict: Red Devils show more freedom without Ronaldo but Ten Hag must replace him in January transfer window’
How on earth will they ‘replace’ a man who has started four Premier League games and scored one Premier League goal this season? Who’s up for that incredibly tricky task?
Of course this was Manchester United’s first home game since Ronaldo officially left the club so they included a few words in the programme:
‘Cristiano Ronaldo left the club by mutual agreement last month. The Portuguese superstar scored 145 goals across two spells and 436 appearances and helped us win three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
‘Ronaldo was also crowned Ballon d’Or winner in 2008. In a statement on November 22, the club put on record its gratitude for Cristiano’s immense contribution and wished him and his family well for the future.’
That sounds pretty bloody warm to Mediawatch, keeping in mind the nature of his acrimonious exit from the club.
But obviously there’s no fun in that so…
‘FOND FAREWELL…NOT QUITE! Manchester United’s blunt goodbye to Ronaldo in matchday programme says it all after acrimonious Old Trafford exit.’
Blunt? It was a hell of a lot more effusive than he deserved, Mirror Football.
Elsewhere, people have been counting…
‘Man Utd write blunt 81-word goodbye to Cristiano Ronaldo in matchday programme for Carabao Cup clash vs Burnley’ – The Sun.
‘Manchester United print cold 81-word farewell to Cristiano Ronaldo in matchday programme for Burnley clash with no mention in manager Erik ten Hag’s notes, as Gary Neville insists the club were right to resolve saga before World Cup’ – MailOnline.
‘Cristiano Ronaldo given just 81-word tribute in Man Utd programme after controversial exit as free agent’ – GOAL.
Blunt? Cold? Some would argue that Ronaldo was given about 79 words too many.
When will Manchester United stop being Manchester United ‘without Ronaldo’? Well, not yet, as evidenced in the Daily Star:
‘4 things Erik ten Hag got right as Man Utd ease past Burnley without Cristiano Ronaldo’
They ‘eased past’ Aston Villa in the last round without Cristiano Ronaldo too.
And in case you were wondering, the list of four Ten Hag hits begins with ‘Giving Wan-Bissaka a chance’, which was quite the call considering he a) cost £50m and b) was Ten Hag’s only fit right-back.
To be fair, he did make the right call on Casemiro at centre-back but we have to applaud the imagination required to make this a ‘thing Ten Hag got right as Man Utd ease past Burnley’:
‘Ultimately the goal for Ten Hag was to get the job done and progress into the last eight of the competition, with a genuine chance of winning United’s first piece of silverware since 2017.’
So one of the things he got right as Manchester United beat Burnley was beating Burnley? Thanks. For. That.
A message to you, Ronnie…
At some point we knew that Marcus Rashford scoring his ninth goal of the season would be framed as some kind of ‘message’. We thought that ‘message’ might be to Erik ten Hag or Gareth Southgate but no, Manchester United’s top scorer ‘sent a message to Cristiano Ronaldo’, an ex-Manchester United striker who started four Premier League games this season. Why? How? It matters not because Ronaldo.
As Jack Otway writes on the Express website:
‘Life without Cristiano Ronaldo has started well for Manchester United. And Marcus Rashford has sent a message to the 37-year-old that he’s ready to be the Red Devils’ talisman after shining in the club’s 2-0 Carabao Cup win over Burnley on Wednesday night.’
A DM might have been easier. Though quite why Ronaldo would give a sh*t is a mystery.
‘And his performance has sent a message to Ronaldo that he’s ready to step up and be the main man in the wake of the Portugal international’s departure.’
How did a man who started four Premier League games this season leave a vacancy for a ‘main man’? Bruno Fernandes might want a word.
‘Rashford has now proven, yet again this season, that he’s got what it takes to step up and carry this United team.’
Pretty sure the point is that nobody should need to ‘carry this United team’.