Manchester United have started off the Ralf Rangnick era in perfect fashion, beating Crystal Palace 1-0.

United seemed like a different team overnight, pressing relentlessly, controlling the game, and dominating throughout. The 1-0 scoreline didn't tell the complete story, even if Fred's one goal was a wonder.

Cristiano Ronaldo may not have contributed in his usual fashion with a goal, but this game could be one that signals the start of something new for the great.

Ronaldo played as part of a two-person frontline with Marcus Rashford against Crystal Palace, which is rare for him. He played alongside Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, making the defence-splitting runs to work off the Frenchman.

It now seems Ronaldo has become the Benzema.

The Portuguese forward took his most touches of the season with 55, per Sofascore. However, his passing numbers included more crosses attempted, more passes attempted and completed, and even a key pass.

Ronaldo played as an old-school striker, dropping a bit deeper to bring the best out of Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Mason Greenwood in the second half to significant effects. Even though none of these players scored, they looked much better, with all three having dangerous moments within the game.

Outside of his offensive abilities, Ronaldo was also pressing high, making the extra effort to win the ball back as fast as possible.

As Rangnick's famous 'countdown' rule of winning the ball back within eight seconds, Ronaldo did his best to stick to this principle. Maybe fuelled by the number of critics he's had since the announcement of Rangnick that he won't press, it seemed to have been quashed by his performance.

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Even though many fans will see Ronaldo as having a relatively poor performance against Palace due to not getting on the scoresheet, this evolution might be for the better.

While Ronaldo is arguably not human, he will still feel the painful inevitability of time taking away his athletic ability. However, suppose Ronaldo can adapt his game more to how he played against Crystal Palace, where he can use his physicality, intelligence and immense power with the ball. In that case, Ronaldo can still easily succeed for many years.

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