Paul Ince Exclusive: On Ronaldo Pressing Demands
Former Manchester United star Paul Ince has dismissed claims that Cristiano Ronaldo will struggle with the high-intensity approach of new Red Devils’ boss Ralf Rangnick. Questions have been asked about whether the veteran frontman will be able to cope with the former RB Leipzig manager’s relentless pressing game. But Ince believes that talk of Ronaldo having to adapt to the German tactician’s system is wide of the mark.
Ronaldo Focus Remains On Goals
Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: “We’re not talking about Ronaldo from 12 or 13 years ago, we’re talking about Ronaldo who’s 36 years of age and has this amazing ability to score important goals when the team needs it.
“There are not many people at 36 who are going to start pressing the ball and he’s never done that.
“I played for United with Eric Cantona – Eric never used to press, but the idea was that the other players around him would do the pressing to win the ball back and then get it to him.
“You look at Man City’s game against PSG. Mbappe, Neymar, Messi didn’t press one bit, they lost the ball and they just stood still.
“If you’re asking a 36-year-old person like Ronaldo to press, and press, and press, when he eventually gets the ball he’s going to be absolutely knackered and he won’t be able to do anything.
“You can’t have it both ways – I don’t understand why people keep talking about this pressing game because we’ve never played that way under Ole in the last three years.”
Time Will Be Needed
Ince – who won two Premier League titles during his six-year spell at Old Trafford – also feels that the intricacies of Rangnick’s pressing style could be difficult for United’s players to master straight away.
“Pressing it is an art, it’s not just about people running towards the ball at pace; you have to go in fours and fives and at angles,” he explained.
“You’ve got to understand it’s not all about pressing the ball, you’ve got to press space and press different players who are not on the ball.
“There’s a lot of technical stuff that goes into pressing to make it work, (Jurgen) Klopp’s got that down to a T, and so has (Thomas) Tuchel. But at United, we’re absolutely miles away from it.”
Ronaldo Should Start
Ronaldo was benched for United’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea under caretaker manager Michael Carrick last month, before starting in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace – Rangnick’s first game in the dugout.
And Ince is hoping the iconic frontman remains a regular in the starting line-up, despite the Red Devils’ getting a positive result at Stamford Bridge.
“Let’s not get carried away with, ‘we got a great result against Chelsea because we pressed from the top’, we got a great result against Chelsea because Chelsea missed chances,” he said.
“David de Gea was outstanding. I think Rangnick might want to come and play that way, but it’s not like we’ve got a seasoned striker sitting on the bench – we haven’t got a (Erling) Haaland or someone like that.
“Maybe they thought they’d go the way that Man City have gone without a striker this season, but Ronaldo has to play, Ronaldo’s one of the greatest players in the world.
“He scores goals, from day one he has scored goals, he’s a goal machine.
“We haven’t got someone to replace him, it’s not even up to debate.
“People get carried away because of the two results (under Carrick), thinking that’s the way forward – United need a goalscorer and we haven’t got one unless Ronaldo’s on the pitch, so for me he has to play.”