Former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville has warned his old club that they will never be able to press from the front with Cristiano Ronaldo spearheading their forward line.
Ronaldo, who netted a treble in Portugal's 5-0 win over Luxembourg in their latest 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Tuesday evening, returned to United during the summer transfer window from Juventus.
Whereas he left United in 2009 to join Real Madrid as a winger, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, certainly in the last decade, has transformed himself into a central striker, with his record in front of goal speaking for itself.
Since returning to Old Trafford less than two months ago, Ronaldo has scored five goals in six matches, confirming that putting the ball in the back of the net should not be a problem.
But what could be a problem, according to former skipper Neville, is how he affects United's pressing game, with the Sky Sports pundit, who played alongside Ronaldo in his first spell in England, insisting that he "doesn't work hard enough" to help the team when out of possession.
"With it comes big positives, but with it also comes problems. Ronaldo had to be managed shall we say," Neville told The Overlap. "In the 2008 Barcelona semi-final away from home, Cristiano Ronaldo was shoved up front on his own, and Rooney and Ji-Sung Park were shoved wide, and [Carlos] Tevez was brought back to [mark] Sergio Busquets.
"You couldn't carry him in the big games because he generally doesn't work hard enough.
"So he's playing up front now - you're never going to press from the front. So the idea that Manchester United can become a pressing team with Cristiano up front is never going to happen. He wasn't pressing 10-15 years ago.
"So what you say then is, 'what's the style of Manchester United?', well they're a counter-attack team.
"That becomes difficult when you're playing against teams that are inferior to you most of the time. So what you get is teams like Aston Villa and Everton counter-attacking.
"A half-decent team against Manchester United will cut through them. That's a problem, they've got to stop that."
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