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Manchester United must rebuild around Bruno Fernandes, not Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has disrupted Manchester United's identity, they can get it back by dropping him and focusing on Bruno Fernandes.

Manchester United must rebuild...

Manchester United must rebuild around Bruno Fernandes, not Cristiano Ronaldo

Shane Keegan joined OTB AM on Tuesday to discuss Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo and that loss to Wolves.

Ralf Rangnick's honeymoon period didn't last long.

After losing to Wolves 1-0 at home, criticism is coming from all corners for the new Manchester United interim manager. Rangnick played 4-2-2-2 with Ronaldo up top, which has become his preferred formation. But while he started Ronaldo, he dropped Bruno Fernandes.

Fernandes seemingly fits that lineup as one of the key playmakers perfectly.

Dropping Fernandes 12 months ago would never be a consideration. Fernandes carried Manchester United from the moment he signed for them up until the start of this season. Since Ronaldo signed, he has become an ancillary player in the team. No longer is the attack built around him. No longer is he the driving force leading by example by pressing from the front.

His impact is so sparse that it's not even controversial to drop him. Shane Keegan believes that's on Ronaldo's arrival.

"Fernandes' form last year is being forgotten," Keegan said.

"He was incredible. I know Ronaldo has been good since he came to the club, but Fernandes was better. Fernandes was absolutely incredible for Manchester United last season. If the plus of Ronaldo's revival and the plus of his performances also has to equal the downturn in Bruno Fernandes' performances, well there's no sum gain there.

"That's not a step forward at all."

Ronaldo's aura has hung over this team all season. Young, promising players who were supposed to propel Manchester United forward are not doing so. Jadon Sancho is at the centre of that. Sancho entered this season injured and has never looked like a Premier League calibre player. That despite him proving himself in the Bundesliga.

Sancho lacks confidence. He defers to the players around him. Manchester United players defer to Ronaldo too often. He broke that trend against Wolves on Monday, but failed to execute after ignoring a pass outside to Ronaldo.

"I was half expecting Ronaldo to give the sign across to the subs bench to get him off. Their decision-making in the final third was really poor. You also had Cavani when he should have slipped Greenwood on the outside. They could have made life a bit easier on themselves in that sense.

"Sancho. He's probably a victim of the fact they don't have a settled system, they don't have a settled position for him. He's into the team, out of the team. In one position when he's in it then out, and next time he gets a run he's in a different position...that is chicken and egg."

Ronaldo must start for Manchester United. But that's for commercial reasons rather than football reasons. When Johnny Ward called for Ronaldo to be benched, Keegan understood but explained it wasn't going to happen.

"It is a problem. But when it's not an option to drop him, and I'm telling you it's not an option to drop him...last night he was captain. It' ain't going to happen.

"I still think they can play on the counterattack with Ronaldo there."

Keegan explains that Ronaldo could be the first point of contact in a counterattack. He would be a target man rather than a sprinter stretching the defence. It could work, but it's a more difficult way to build on the counter. Manchester United can more easily build an identity around Fernandes.

There's no guarantee that Fernandes form will return. But the potential of a team built around him is much higher than one built around 37-year-old Ronaldo.

Despite his 47 goals in all competitions.

One January transfer for each Premier League team


OTB AM in association with Gillette.

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Bruno Fernandes Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United Ralf Rangnick