CRISTIANO RONALDO declared himself ‘Ready’ on the eve of the season opener in a clear message to his new boss.
But the question is – are Manchester United ready for life without their wantaway Portuguese superstar?
And the over-riding feeling during the 52 minutes he spent on the bench while his team-mates toiled was ‘No’.
Erik Ten Hag’s decision not to name Ronaldo in the starting XI was the only one he could realistically take.
After all, the 37-year-old has made it clear he wants to leave and missed most of pre-season due to a family issue back in Lisbon.
Yet he lifted the crowd just by stepping out to warm up just before half-time – although admittedly his team had just gone two goals down at the time.
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And his introduction from the bench early in the second half gave the out-of-sorts Red Devils a fresh impetus.
He wasn’t at his best – and after less than two weeks of training perhaps that is no surprise.
But there was enough to show why United are so steadfastly refusing to listen to offers for him this summer.
Unless they can find someone to take on the goal-scoring mantle in the final three weeks of the transfer window, that is unlikely to change.
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Ten Hag’s decision to use Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes as interchangeable false nines didn’t work – despite a bright opening.
The pair of them walked off at half-time with shoulders slumped – as though they were not quite sure what was expected of them.
The Danish midfielder had some nice touches but wasted the one clear opening he had – chipping tamely into the hands of Robert Sanchez.
It was a first half as bad as much of what we saw here last season.
The two midfielders occupied the spot which Ronaldo did for much of last season yet it was Fred who made way for him soon after the interval.
It was not long before he put one on a plate for Marcus Rashford who somehow failed to beat Sanchez from close range.
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The offside flag went up against the Portuguese but replays showed it probably would have stood if Rashford had scored.
He also saw a goalbound effort blocked as United pushed for an equaliser in the last few minutes.
Ronaldo needs time to get up to speed, yet United certainly looked more likely to get something with him on the pitch than without him.
At the other end another new boy – former Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez had looked assured early on – but it didn’t last.
The Argentine was given a tough time by former United man Danny Welbeck and was lucky not to give a penalty away for barging him over in the second half.
All in all a worrying start to the Ten Hag revolution.
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