Why Ronaldo could make shock start in Man Utd Premier League opener

Daniel Edwards
Daniel Edwards 6 Aug 2022 19:30 BST 3 min read
Cristiano Ronaldo, Man Utd, 2022/23

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make a shock start for Manchester United in their Premier League opener against Brighton, despite barely featuring for the club during pre-season preparations.

The veteran striker has played a grand total of 45 minutes this summer, accumulated in their 1-1 friendly draw with Rayo last Sunday, and indeed only returned to training less than two weeks ago after being granted leave for personal reasons by the club.

In the meantime most of the talk around Ronaldo has revolved around whether he will stay at Old Trafford or otherwise, with the player reportedly keen to leave for a team that can give him Champions League football in 2022-23.

According to the Mirror, though, while Erik ten Hag may not have expected to have Ronaldo at his disposal on Sunday the new manager will now be able to call on his experience and unrivalled goalscoring touch.

The newspaper reports that Ronaldo has been in vintage form during the last few training sessions, quoting sources at Carrington that say the 37-year-old is "flying".

He has duly informed Ten Hag that he is ready and willing to take the field from kick-off against Brighton.

Will Ten Hag start with Ronaldo?

Erik ten Hag, Man Utd, 2022/23

The manager must now decide whether to risk him after such a long period of inactivity or press ahead with a depleted frontline of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, with Anthony Martial currently laid up through injury.

Speaking to reporters before his Premier League debut, Ten Hag affirmed that he was happy to have Ronaldo in his plans, while seeking to defuse the situation caused by his early exit from Old Trafford during that friendly clash with Rayo.

“How do I feel about starting the season with Ronaldo? I'm really happy,” he explained.

“I had told you before: we planned with him for the season. We have a top striker and I'm really happy he's here, he's in the squad and we stick to the plan.

“Now I have to point [out] there were many players who left, but the spotlight is on Cristiano and that's not right.

“That is what I said is not correct. So I think, do your research and [report] that many players left.

“He was part of it but, again, it was a lot of players.”