CRISTIANO RONALDO’S second Manchester United stint appears to be coming to an underwhelming end.
The Portuguese superstar returned to Old Trafford to much fanfare last year, but seems likely to leave under a cloud.
Ronaldo, 37, has largely been limited to the bench since Erik ten Hag’s arrival – with debates rumbling on over whether he should be receiving more game time.
He bagged his 700th club career goal in the recent win over Everton, but snarled and muttered to himself when he was substituted in the 0-0 stalemate with Newcastle a week later.
Things reached boiling point after the 2-0 win over Tottenham last week, when Ronaldo refused to come on and subsequently stormed off down the tunnel – leaving the match before full-time.
Ten Hag, 52, banished the five-time Ballon d’Or winner from first-team training as a punishment – dropping him from the squad for the trip to Chelsea.
The 1-1 draw was just the third United match that CR7 hasn’t featured in this season – and they’ve had mixed results.
While he has only started six games in all competitions, Ronaldo has at least been a regular from the bench.
Without him, they have managed a win, a loss and that draw at Chelsea.
Their solitary win came in that Tottenham game, while their loss was the 6-3 trouncing at Manchester City.
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This gives them a win percentage of 33.3 without him – albeit in a much smaller sample size – compared to 66.7 when he plays.
Another factor to be noted is the difficulty of these three fixtures, compared to the rest that include their four Europa League group games.
While, counted among the 12 matches Ronaldo has featured in, is the 2-1 win over Liverpool, although the forward only played the last four minutes.
United have averaged 2 goals per game without Ronaldo, compared to 1.3 with him.
But they have conceded 2.3 per game without him, compared to 1 with him.
With Ronaldo they have taken 2.1 points per game, and just 1.3 without him.
Prior to the Chelsea match, Ten Hag said: “What the talk – if you ask about that – is between Cristiano and me.
“The statement is also clear, I think. He remains an important player in the squad.
“I am the manager, I am responsible for the culture here and I have to set standards and values and I have to control them. In the team, we have values and standards and I have to control that.
“After Vallecano, I told him it was unacceptable but not him everyone, this is the second time, there are consequences. We miss him tomorrow.
“It’s a miss for the squad but it’s important for the attitude and mentality of the group and now we have to focus on Chelsea as that is important.”
At the game, he added: “Yes, I think it [his suspension] is only for this weekend, this match and then we will talk and we will see.”
Ronaldo has scored two goals this season and laid on one assist in his 12 outings.
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