Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of Michael Carrick’s starting XI in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
Carrick took the bold decision of naming the Portuguese on the bench in favour of a counter-attacking frontline.
United did well to soak up pressure in the first-half. Despite allowing Chelsea the lion’s share of possession, the visitors didn’t concede, largely due to the compactness of their midfield and off the ball work of the young attacking duo of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.
Carrick’s ‘gameplan’ seemed to work perfectly when Sancho broke the deadlock, pouncing on Jorginho’s error before racing through on goal and burying a low shot past Edouard Mendy.
The goal-scorer was then replaced by Ronaldo, but Chelsea levelled just few minutes later from the spot after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s foul on Thiago Silva from a corner.
The caretaker manager’s decision to bench the superstar was vindicated as Ronaldo failed to make any impact, registering zero shots and getting booked for dissent in his 26-minute cameo appearance.
A point against the league leaders for the Red Devils wasn’t a bad result, but Ronaldo’s disappointment after the final whistle was clear, as he stormed down the tunnel without shaking hands with Chelsea players. He also didn’t applaud the travelling United support.
🗣 "He's not come back to Manchester United to sit on the bench."
Roy Keane says Cristiano Ronaldo had to play today and doesn't understand why he was on the bench pic.twitter.com/P2NVBJI26e
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) November 28, 2021
Roy Keane insisted his former teammate hasn’t returned to the club ‘to sit on the bench’, but it could be the new normal under incoming interim boss Ralf Rangnick, as it’s tough to see just how the German would be able to accommodate the 36-year-old in his high-pressing system.
However, Carrick clarified Rangnick had no influence on his decision against Chelsea.