Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Cristiano Ronaldo (Getty Images)
Manchester United rely on Cristiano Ronaldo to show Manchester city which they missed when they met at Old Trafford on Saturday, with both teams in need of points.
Ronaldo continued to take United out of the Champions League holes in midweek with a brace in a 2-2 draw at Atalanta as he struck late to collect points for the third time in four games Europeans.
The 36-year-old now has nine goals in 12 games since returning to the club that first made him known.
If things had turned out differently in the last days of August, Ronaldo could have lined up in City blue for Saturday’s game.
Indeed, it was City’s interest in the five-time Ballon d’Or winner that appeared to trigger United’s decision to sign Ronaldo from Juventus despite the fact that he already has an array of oversubscribed talent for him. attack positions.
Despite Ronaldo’s strike rate, the deal initially offered to go to City could have been more beneficial to all parties.
Pep Guardiola’s men have shone at times this season but also missed a clinical finisher as they failed to score at home against Southampton and Crystal Palace to drop five points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.
United are three points behind after a one-win streak in five league games.
The Red Devils have won just five of Ronaldo’s 12 appearances, while Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have been sidelined.
A 3-0 win at Tottenham last weekend saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer become United boss.
But the defensive weaknesses Liverpool exposed in a 5-0 humiliation of Solskjaer’s men less than two weeks ago were again exposed in Italy on Tuesday, especially after Raphael Varane limped out from an injury to the hamstrings.
Varane was ruled out for a month, leaving Solskjaer with a headache over how to protect his last sluggish center-backs.
Antonio Conte returns to the Premier League on Sunday when Tottenham travel to Everton in hopes of returning to the race to finish in the top four.
Spurs rushed to the former Chelsea boss, who had been linked with United’s work, within 24 hours of Nuno Espirito Santo’s sacking on Monday.
Hiring one of Europe’s most coveted coaches is a sign of Spurs’ ambition not to fall back into the mediocrity of the midfield after the five-year heights at the helm of Mauricio Pochettino between 2014 and 2019.
Conte is due to sack Harry Kane as the England captain has scored only once in the Premier League this season.
But Everton could prove to be perfect opponents to kick off the Italian’s reign after losing their last three games.
Spurs’ quick move to Conte highlighted a first month to forget for Newcastle’s new owners.
Three weeks after Steve Bruce’s sacking, the Magpies are still looking for a new boss after being turned down by Villarreal coach Unai Emery.
Former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is the new favorite, but interim boss Graeme Jones looks set to take charge of a third game at Brighton on Saturday.
Backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, Newcastle will have huge support to step up in the January transfer window.
But they are in dire need of an overhaul just to avoid relegation.
They sit second at the bottom of the table with four points, without a win in their first 10 Premier League games of the season.
Fixtures (every SA hours):
Southampton v Aston Villa – 10 p.m.
Manchester United v Manchester City – 2:30 p.m.
Brentford v Norwich – 5:00 p.m.
Chelsea v Burnley – 5:00 p.m.
Crystal Palace vs. Wolves – 5:00 p.m.
Brighton v Newcastle – 19:30
Arsenal v Watford – 4:00 p.m.
Everton v Tottenham – 4:00 p.m.
Leeds v Leicester – 4:00 p.m.
West Ham vs Liverpool – 6.30 p.m.