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Fletch: United Stronger Now We Dont Have To Cover Ron

Darren Fletcher is man of the moment and reckons part of his great form is down to being able to play in his own position, rather than having to double up down the right when Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t track back.

Ronaldo’s failure to work for the team really irritated me. Not because I expected Ronaldo to run around like a blue arsed fly to defend, but because his failure to even try to win back balls he had lost meant the rest of our team had to work harder. The goal Aston Villa scored against us at Old Trafford last season is a perfect example of this.

Whilst of course we miss his goals and his presence in the tunnel, when the opposition are weighing up who they have to play against, but we have seen benefits to his departure as well.

Fletcher has acknowledged the sacrifice the rest of our players had to make to fit Ronaldo in to the team and looks to a more well rounded United team.

“Hopefully, we can become a more rounded team and other players will raise their game to cover the gap left by Cristiano,” said Fletcher. “We’re starting to see that, with Wayne Rooney banging the goals in. We need more goals from midfield and more goals from all the players. That will make us a stronger team because we won’t be as reliant on one player. Teams adapt when players leave. Much as Cristiano was brilliant for us, the team sacrificed a lot for him, too. As a midfielder, I knew I couldn’t bomb forward because Cristiano had gone forward. I knew I had to cover on the right so the left-back and left midfielder couldn’t double up on our full-back.”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Xyth says:

    Still, Ronnie gave us something different.
    I always beleived we woud cope without him, but at the same time I wished he’d flopp at Madrid.

  2. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    wow look at ronaldo in that goal
    not only did he not chase the ball but he took 6 steps back

  3. Zade says:

    Lets not kid ourselves. I would still take Ronaldo “bombing” forward over Fletcher any day; and Fletcher covering up as no one can do it better.

    It is bordering on the ridiculous to even think that the team is better without Ronaldo -let alone conjuring up all sorts of arguments. No sensible man would say that.

    (But I still hope he flops at RM).

  4. Sir_Ryan_Giggs_For_PM says:

    LOL GHTT…Yeah perhaps he felt he did enough for the team which is where the problem is because you can never do enough! Its a joy to watch Rooney track back and the inevitable comment on his back-tracking and ball chasing by the commentators! Its a much more heart warming United line up to be honest.

    Off Topic..Anyone heard of the ‘curse’ put on Ronaldo? Its fuckin funny as hell

  5. DanS says:

    Would agree with @Zade

  6. vishnu1729 says:

    of course…but no one can cover his freekicks and long rangers…
    long live united……

  7. AlphaRS says:

    Ronnie gave us something no other current United squad member can give us. He had the ability to win a gmae single handedly with one flash of brilliance. I haven’t been his biggest fan but trying to dull down the contribution Ronnie made to United’s success is very disrespectful.
    Ronnie has got to be one of the best players we have ever had or will ever have. Simple as.

  8. manchuchu says:

    A marquee player like Ronaldo will come around again… it just takes time.

    But it don’t matter…I’ll wait.

    Red Devil till I die.

  9. aig alex is god says:

    I dont think we are stronger without him. Lets face it Ron was the real deal for the last 3 years.The best player in the league by miles.fletch is right that others especially rooney had to sacrifice a lot but it was nothing compared to what Ronaldo could do. he did not track back beacuse his pace and positioning was vital on the break. He was the only player who could get something special out of the bag when we needed it as the games away to porto and roma in the Champions league proved. Also he had a great understanding with wazza that helped them combine brilliantly

    I am not saying we cannot cope up with it.I disagree that we are stronger but there are ways by which we can minimise the effects of ronaldo’s loss.Any team would struggle if they lose a player of ronnies calibre. we are still 2nd in the league and in the last 16 of the CL.

  10. Welbz19 says:

    I find all this ronaldo talk ridiculous lets just appreciate what he did for us how great a player he was and accept that we are a totally differen team without him!! Better or worse nobody knows yet!! It really frustrates me when I come on here and he is constantly getting knocked!!
    @Sir_Ryan_Giggs_For_PM as for Rooney he blatently isn’t in the same class as ronaldo!! He doesn’t have the edge over ronaldo in any part of his game apart from tracking back which frankly isn’t something that a centre forward should specialise in!
    @ghtt correct me if I’m wrong but ronnie did score twice in that game so him not tracking back wasn’t ideal but he scored twice in a game where everyone else was shit apart from the last 20!

  11. redjoe10 says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, that the team have adapted quite well since his departure. I just wish the damn media would stop referencing him every five seconds!

  12. supey says:

    if your expertise is to sit behind the comp and manage your cleaners, wouldn’t making you do “your part” to “clean your area” be less than efficient?
    we all know that ronaldo’s talents lie in his attacking abilities, not defending, so why not let him spend the time, and energy focusing on what he can do best?
    unlike some player name tevez, when he spends 80% of his energy chasing down lost causes, yess, fans love his grit, but when comes a time where he has to exert just alittle more energy in attack to tip things in his favour, he fails to come up with the goods as he has already expended his energy elsewhere.
    thats exactly the reason why ronaldo is so good in attack, because he maintains his attacking mentality, conserves his energy, and when the opportunity comes, he will give his best shot… we cant fault him in attack can we? consistently buring 30 40 yards from dribbling from defence to attack at full pace.
    try doing that in your next game, probably burnout after the first run lolss..


  13. Che Guevarist says:

    I actually hope Ronaldo does well at Real, but I want Real as a whole to fail miserably. Then he’ll realise the fascists are a lost cause.

  14. denton davey says:

    To my way of thinking, SAF frequently mis-used CR7. To be sure, Ronaldo was brilliant cutting in from the wing but, as Fletcherinho said (echoing what everyone already knew), this created a huge defensive void and led to an increasingly mis-shapen team. Also, the goals-scored for the team fell when Ronaldo’s individual production rose.

    When CR7 was used as a point-of-attack striker then he was not expected to be any sort of defensive presence. But his potent potential forced the opponents’ defence to play further back and, even then, he was fast enough and strong enough to still produce results. If he had stayed then I think we would see this team playing some sort of 4-3-2-1 formation, with Rooney and Berbatov playing behind Ronaldo and having to do a lot of defending-from-the-front.

    Playing Ronaldo up-front meant that his menacing runs in from the wing were less frequent but it did give the team’s attack a strange balance that is lacking so far this year. The key point is that as a few of my fellows have already stated, Ronaldo was an utterly exceptional footballing talent – I’m not going to discuss his “human qualities” except to say that he was driven to win and to excel.

    To say the team is better without Ronaldo is, I think, misleading; the team is different without Ronaldo and – to date – SAF has not yet found a way to re-integrate the pieces which is why so many performances have been so puzzling. On the other hand, there is enough quality in the squad that it is not wrong – or misleading – to claim that the team can be better without the world’s best player. So far, the evidence could only lead to a “not proven” verdict on that claim.

    But, there’s still a lot of footie left to play in 2009/2010 – and this squad has a huge reservoir of talent – and “so far” isn’t really very deep into the whole season so I remain guardedly optimistic that SAF can do a magical job of reconfiguring his assets and end up holding the two main club-team trophies in May. If that does happen then this season will be among the most-exceptional managerial achievements of a truly-exceptional career.

  15. denton davey says:

    Another way of looking at the post-Ronaldo period is to consider the example of his free-kicks. I have no idea about his success-rate but I don’t think it was very high – I remember a lot of them crashing into the wall, others flying into RowZ and those wonderful expressions of frustrated expectation on CR7′s face. Like the proverbial little girl with the curl, when he was good he was very, very good but when he was bad he was horrid. The potential for game-breaking was always there even if it was only occasionally realized. I would hazard a guess that the success-ratio on free-kicks this year isn’t really any better or any worse than last year but I doubt that there is the same sense of anticipation when Rooney or Giggs or Anderson or Nani or Scholes or Valencia stands over the ball, twenty-five yards from the opponent’s goal.

  16. RedDeviled Egg says:

    Anyone who claims we are a better side without Ronaldo don’t really understand football.
    Obviously he had his faults, but his strengths outweighed them by miles.
    He had a spark and flair that made the team as a whole better. His pace and movement were a constant threat and as a result he sped up our rate of play and attack.
    Watching this year our attack is very slow. We take a lot of time building the play as opposed to hitting up counter attacks. As a result many teams are able to put all their men behind the ball and make it absolute hell to get on goal.
    Ronaldo is a phenomenal talent. Probably one of the best the world has ever seen. To say any team could get better without the best player in the world is ridiculous. Sure it’s easier to defend.(I keep remembering all our clean sheets last year though WITH and I’ll say it again WITH Ronaldo play)
    It’s a hell of a lot harder to score. Ronaldo made it easier for everyone else to score since he was able to draw multiple defenders to him at a time. This free’d up so much space for everyone else.
    Viva Ronaldo! the guy is class.

  17. brett1985 says:

    How many goals did we concede because Ronaldo did not track back? This seems to be a very trivial point.

    Classic case of cutting off your nose to spite the face.

  18. JD says:

    guys, as you are mainly guys, it’s like looking back at your lost love, the one that got away.. You remember the good times, they shine through and you don’t look to remember all the bad times.
    But they existed, little things everywhere, what these boys are saying is that the sum of the whole is better than having a mudded diamond, we did struggle for a large part of last season and it would be really something else if Ronny was to produce 07/08 season stats ever again.

    Yea I’d take his great CL / league goals any day of the week, but then i’d take stifling Barcelona for 180 minutes and a scholes wonder goal even more so.

  19. Bebeto says:

    Are we a stronger team without Ronaldo? More than likely not.

    Has the team’s dynamic altered to sufficiently offset Ronaldo’s departure? If not stronger, there is evidence to suggest that at least that is the case.

  20. Muggaz says:

    the fact is, if we ever got a free kick within 40 yards (fat chance of that happening this season) you could almost bet your house on it being on target, with at least a 50% chance of being a goal – that is something that has dried up completely (in spite of Giggs goal vs Tottenham)

    I have used this analagoy before, but watching Ronaldo play at real is like watching your really hot ex girlfriend with another guy… it hurts.

  21. enzo133 says:

    We are not a better team without Ronaldo but his absence has made little difference to us. We have scored more goals at this stage than we did last year and we are two points better off in the league. Whilst I acknowledge that Ronaldo was a good player I do object to this idea that he is somehow one of the greatest ever to play for united. He doesn’t even come close npt even the top five (Best/Edwards/Cantona/Charlton/Giggs).

  22. bchilds says:

    He has a point, it’s a more predictable team to play in but, sadly, it’s also a more predictable team to play against.

  23. King Eric says:

    enzo and denton – Spot on lads.

  24. King Eric says:

    bchilds – I don’t think it is more predictable. How predictable was it triple marking Ronaldo and stifling United out? Now the goals will come from all over and from different areas. I wouldn’t call that predictable.

  25. King Eric says:

    It would appear the United fans are split. Some can’t seem to get over him leaving whereas others , as great a player as he is , are actually glad to see the back of his petulant ways. I am in the latter. His behaviour at times last season was nothing short of embarrasing. Having to defend him on a Monday morning at work for kicking out at players and such like.

  26. denton davey says:

    Muggaz Said,November 24th, 2009 @18:07 the fact is, if we ever got a free kick within 40 yards (fat chance of that happening this season) you could almost bet your house on it being on target, with at least a 50% chance of being a goal

    Obviously, our memories are different – I reckon that CR7 hit the target at about a 20 per cent rate and scored at about a ten per cent rate. But I have to say that I have no access to statistics to back up my point – it’s just a memory.

    So, my thinking is that Ronaldo might have had a fairly low “conversion percentage” but there was a frisson, a strong sense that something extraordinary MIGHT happen whenever he got into shooting position. No question that that’s missing now.

    I also seem to remember that he was exactly deadly from the penalty-spot, either.

    But, that said, he was a fantastic talent and a joy to watch. His entertainment is truly missed but I am not sure that the team is overall greatly weakened by his departure – it’s another “NewUTD” and it might be very, very good. But, it’s too soon to tell about that. We’ll all have a better idea of that in late April.

  27. vidic will get ya15 says:

    top top interveiw in united we stand, definatley worth buyin if anyone goes tommorow, good bit about goin up against fabregas gerrard and lampard, saying i’ll be there everytime you turn am gonna kick you and get in your face can you handle it

  28. United4eva says:

    People said we’d never recover from Cantona retiring that we’d lost the flair and we’d become predictable slinging crosses into the box from Becks’ right boot…
    …didn’t stop us winning the Treble though.

    Dwight Yorke was no Cantona but he was what we needed at the time. A team player who knew his role in the side and did it expertly. Sometimes by sacrificing some individual brilliance you can become a more efficient outfit.

  29. manchuchu says:

    Nobody can replace the King.

    Even Peacock El Porto I think someone will come through the ranks in time to become more deadly than what he was. We have a lot of rough diamonds in the squad who have not gone through the processes that made Peacock what he was from just another starting side show step-over king.

    But even then… You will never get another Cantona. Never.

  30. theres only one Keano says:

    well I am sorry but I totaly disagree with this article well except his last season where ronaldo was moody has hell. even cantona at times was moody and not tracking back, what about berbatov he does not exactly track back does he. ronaldo between aug 2006 to may 2008 was just has much a team player has any united player. fletcher forgets he was at times pants during uniteds sticky times, and united are not exactly lighting the world on fire, I think a phew united fans are going over board on this everton result and are sniping at ronaldo has a way to justify the point that things are rosy in the garden since ronaldo has gone when they are not. so tevez worked hard and ran around and covered other players but who was the more important player ronaldo and tevez exactly.

  31. theres only one Keano says:

    denton davey
    ronaldo was never missused, and fergie played ronaldo upfront sometimes is because united were thread bear upfront or strikers like berbatov and tevez were woeful. and ronaldo can play upfront because he has all the weapons of a striker. dont forget in the 07/08 season we had rooney tevez saha. when rooney was injured ronaldo had to cover rooney because saha was out for most of the season, and I would rather ronaldo leading the line than giggs.

  32. kaihnsn says:

    i dont understand united fan still thinking united will fare no better as a TEAM without ronaldo. with ronaldo singing, yes we are strong because of his magic. but when he not singing team will suffered and other players had to cover his ass.

    but now united play more as a team. the game against chelsea really show our true composure. hope the win against everton will be the springboard for them make ten win on tyhe trot.

  33. Harsh says:

    wow some of you people wishing ronaldo will flop at RM are sad, he left, get over it. I will always wish him the best, and lets face it he was lighting la liga up before his injury and his goal pace was ridiculous. As far as him not tracking back, neither does messi, should we fault him for that? No because players like ronaldo and messi are attacking wonders so you sacrifice a little defensive cover but then again the opposing team is ussually too scared to attack down ronaldo’s side in fear of a quick united break.

    To me, the loss of Ronaldo has effected the entire premier league, it seems slightly deflated for lack of a better term.

  34. brett1985 says:

    People who are negative about Ronaldo are picking on very minor points and blowing them out of proportion.

    Not tracking back, hardly a legitimate complaint when the player scores 42 goals in season.

    How many goals did we give up because he didn’t track back? May I remind people our defense was superb.

    Calling him moody etc could easily be said about Wayne Rooney. Loyalty? Was Rooney loyal when he left Everton. Touchline Tantrum- I’ve seen Ronaldo condemned for it and Rooney praised by the same people. Double standard eh!

    If you are going to nit pick about Ronaldo it is very transparent and it down to you own personal whim/obsessions. People say they are entitled to their opinions but I am entitled to dismiss their opinions when they become outrageous. If Ronaldo is not a legend then who is?

    Gary Neville- No, he isn’t a good a player as Ronaldo.
    George Best- No, buggered up his career in a ridiculous fashion and we got relegated soon after.
    Cantona- No, wasn’t at the club as long as Ronaldo.

    Naturally I consider all of the above names legends but Ronaldo beats them on most criteria by a country mile. The people who have grown to demean Ronaldo have simply succumbed to ABU pressure. He was a great lad, a great player and is a great legend.

  35. King Eric says:

    brett1985 – Great player but not a legend. Not even close.

  36. King Eric says:

    brett – Its nowt to do with how long players have been at the club. Eric was the catalyst and inspiration that helped United to their first title in 26 years. Loved the club, embraced the fans and was United. Ronaldo ain’t fit to lace his boots pal.

  37. theres only one Keano says:

    lets get one thing straght cantona was in his late 20s when he arrived and cantona left united because eric felt he was past it ronaldo is different. oh yes ronaldo realy wanted to stay in his 6th season and pound for pound cantona did much more foo united than ronaldo did, cantona did it from the moment he arrived while ronaldo did it in his 4th season and only was great between aug 2006 to may 2008, his last season dont make me laugh he was awful.

  38. brett1985 says:

    theres only one keano

    I did not even respond to you in the other topic, some of your opinions are so ludicrous and stupid. You are beyond help.

    I’m not even going to entertain an argument with someone who thinks Ronaldo was awful last season so I suggest you don’t bother in future because I wont. Anyone who backs you up on that opinion wants shot.

    King Eric: Cantona is a legend and I am not saying he isn’t. I am just using the types of criteria people have used to eliminate Ronaldo’s legendary status against other players to highlight potential hypocrisy. So taking your point Roy Keane did not love the club or embrace the fans so he mustn’t be a legend? Of course he is. It is very easy to pick out minor points and focus on them and it is clear that a lot of people feel good about doing this where Ronaldo was concerned.

    Frankly Ronaldo is a legend whether you guys like it or not.

    He meets nearly all the criteria and if you are going to be dismissive of Ronaldo, by the same token people could raise trivial complaints about any other player save for Giggs or Charlton.

    I want to enjoy his legacy and at every turn on this messageboard people are coming out with bizarre put downs for Ronaldo. I accept that most people deep down appreciate Ronaldo but you’ve got to show this.

    Lastly he was our foremost player in the most successful 3 year period in the clubs history. His goals from the wing were 4-5 times what an average united winger would be expected to provide. The very fact that I’m having to defend Ronaldo shows just how ludicrous this discussion is and whilst I am all for agreeing to disagree (usually), I find the negativity towards Ronaldo simply ridiculous.

  39. theres only one Keano says:

    oh shutup ronaldo was woeful last season go and suck ronaldos you know what. you are a typical ronaldo fanboy, he did it for 2 seasons thats all he done it for. what did united get from ronaldo last season temper tantrums crying moaning mood swings like he was some frustrated girl on a period and annoying media speculation. no ronaldo is not a legend thats a fact, you know what a united legend is keane scholes giggs charlton law best who done ot for years not a couple of seasons, do not even put ronaldo in the same breath has some of those players. go watch real madrid you burk I bet you want to marry the guy thats how much of a fanboy you are, and most will agree with me including king eric and scott the red you think they should be shot to idiot.

  40. theres only one Keano says:

    oh yea my bad I forgot to add another legend eric cantona the second king behind dennis law. I have seen great united players and legends, ronaldo is a great player not a united legend. are you thick or just stupid propably both. anyone calling ronaldo a legend is just plain retarded. next you be saying tevez is a legend because he ran around a lot and scored some important goals.

  41. RedDeviled Egg says:

    Well said! It’s insane that anyone could be on here bashing Ronaldo. They guy was spectacular for us. Lit up the league. If 42 goals in a single campaign isn’t enough to be considered inspirational for a team I don’t know what is.
    Keano, you really don’t know football. Ronaldo was woeful last season?? I’m afraid not. 2nd in scoring in the prem league, his goals in the champs league pretty much forced us in to the final.
    Every player in the league has acknowledged that the league is worse off without him and that it lost a lot when he left.
    Please tell me a single player that can light up the pitch with his touch, pace, skill, class, and raw power that Ronaldo can. 42 goals in a season. From a WINGER. That’s the stuff of legends. There’s no one around that will be matching that anytime soon

  42. RedDeviled Egg says:

    Also, Keano, if you think being a ‘fanboy’ or fan of the top player in the world is such a terrible thing I guess you REALLY don’t understand the game.
    Any real fan of the sport acknowledges and respects the talent and qualities of great players. If you can’t see that Ronaldo is a special talent, you might as well not bother watching any team whether it United or Madrid

    I’m sure you weren’t slagging him when he was with us, so why the hell are you doing it now?

  43. theres only one Keano says:

    RedDeviled Egg
    hmm I have given him credit I called him a great player but not a legend, but to even call ronaldo a legend is in my eyes in the way that idiot is saying it is a fanboy, especially when he says ronaldo was awesome last season when he was one of uniteds most moody players and in woeful form. is he or you blind or just stupid what I was saying. I know ronaldo is a special player it does not take a rocket scientist to work that out but hes not a legend, legendary united players have to tick many boxes ronaldo misses many of those boxes what makes a united legend. ronaldo for starters is not even the worlds best player messi is the worlds best player.

  44. theres only one Keano says:

    RedDeviled Egg
    I think fernando torres when he is fit and on form can very much light up the premiership just has much as ronaldo. rooney when he is at his best can also be just has good, ryan giggs at 36 still WOWS me with what he does, ashley young is another thrilling player to watch. its one player that has left the premiership, there are many quality players in the premiership.

    I know nothing about football or am I blind or did I see a different ronaldo. my eyes dont lie what I was watching from ronaldo was awful last season I was not impressed it was ugly to watch, yea he was great having a hissy fit throwing a towel because he was taken off. I will say it yet again ronaldo only did it for 2 seasons last season was maybe his worst season to date its up there in his second season, van nistlerooy scored 20 plus in his last season it does not mean he was great performences have to go with it.

  45. brett1985 says:

    RedDeviled Egg

    Believe me when I say his comments in this thread are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to strange opinions.

  46. theres only one Keano says:

    oh you will find more agree with me than you, you are nothing but a ronaldo fanboy, anyone thinking ronaldo was great last year is a retard. putting ronaldo and united legend in the same sentance knows nothing about united has a club, your comments backs my statement you are a ronaldo fanboy fact live with it.

  47. orez says:

    Haven’t read all the comments but very happy to see so many fellow supporters defending Ronaldo on the other hand it’s kind of sad that there are so many deluded people on this blog, including the owner of the blog. In the last 3 years Ronaldo achieved and delivered for us more then most of our current players will ever do. May be it easier to defend without Ronaldo, but I am sure it would be even easier if we play with 11 defenders, but it doesn’t mean that team will be stronger. Anyway pointless argument, just respect Ronaldo for what he did for us and stop badmouthing like a looser ex boyfriend.

  48. King Eric says:

    orez – Maybe you enjoyed the way he acted a cunt in Moscow rolling about on the floor in tears. Or perhaps you liked the way he ruined a summer of a glorious double with his constant “only god knows”. Perhaps you liked the way that even on the day of Rome he said he would stay only to leave 3 weeks later. As many have said he is a great player but his antics have left a bad taste in fans mouths including mine.


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