CRISTIANO RONALDO furiously stormed down the tunnel after Manchester United’s draw at Burnley
Cristiano Ronaldo may harbour ambitions of playing until the age of 42-years-old, but if Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Burnley suggests anything, those twilight years will not be at Old Trafford. At the age of 37-years-old, most players have either retired, plummeted down the divisions, or even taken on their first role in management.
But the former Juventus and Real Madrid ace could not be further away from the average player.
The Portuguese star’s imperial fitness, terrifying desire to win, and addiction to success and glory has seen him mould, adapt, and perfect his physique and his game to an almost immortal level.
Unfortunately for the 37-year-old, his return has not lifted United out of a Premier League title malaise dating back to Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
Ronaldo stormed down the tunnel at Turf Moor shortly after the final whistle – could he be surging through the Old Trafford exit doors at such ferocity at the end of the season?
Many supporters and pundits loathe his dramatic post-match exits which normally proceed results as frustrating and potentially damaging as the one suffered at the hands of Sean Dyche’s side.
But his anger and disappointment are fed by his insatiable addiction to victory and the stratospheric demands and pressures he puts on himself.
Unfortunately, such instincts and demands would likely never be channelled towards the Europa League or runs to the top four.
And there is the conundrum which lies at the door of Rangnick. If the German is to take up the two-year consultancy position believed to be in his contract, then Ronaldo’s future will likely be the first on his backroom desk.
Reports from the Sun have already stated that Ronaldo will look to depart the club if United do not finish in the Champions League places.
West Ham’s 1-0 victory against Watford hauled the Reds back into the Europa League placed.
Yet the trapdoor into the Europa Conference League could be opened up if Arsenal and Tottenham win their games in hand.
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners side will open up a three point gap on United if they win their two games in hand, while Tottenham will open up a possibly unassailable six point lead ahead of United.
If United are to finish in the top four or, by hook and by crook, miraculously win the Champions League, then Ronaldo would likely be the player to thank.
However, Ronaldo’s powers may also be waning, as his goalless cameo from the bench against Burnley was his fifth match without a goal.
It is a modest dry patch, incomparable with some of the major goal droughts in the Premier League, yet the fact that he has not endured such a spell in more than ten years, would likely terrify him.
And that could very well spell danger for United, Rangnick, and the upcoming permanent manager.
Ronaldo may be 37-years-old, but he has been irreplaceable at times for United.
The Champions League qualification race looks set to run down until the wire, but United will be wise to ensure any and all solutions are considered before it runs that close.