CRISTIANO RONALDO hailed himself as ‘The King’ ahead of this game.
For previous generations of Manchester United fans only the great Denis Law and Eric Cantona have deserved such accolades.
Cristiano Rolando cuts a disgruntled look[/caption]
Their crowns have never slipped.
Ronaldo’s has, as he now tries to force his way out the club for the second time in his career.
His social media posting in response to fans saying – ‘Sunday, the King plays’ ahead of this game was not getting anyone too excited.
They know he wants away and the majority are far from happy how he is going about it with the big kick-off fast approaching.
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You wouldn’t have known it here however,
Too many excited kids, perhaps some seeing him for the first time, wanted to give him a warm reception.
Amidst some of the shouts of his trademark goal celebration ‘Siiiu’, there may have been the odd ‘boo’.
Barely audible if at all.
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Memories of his glory-filled past, witnessed by and in turn told to those who did not see it, have outweighed concerns about the present for some.
A record of 118 goals in 292 games and eight major honours can do that.
He of course added to that with another 24 last season all be it in a campaign that saw United finish with their worst ever Premier League points total.
That sorry statistic is what convinced Ronaldo that 12 months back at a very different United to the one he left, was enough.
The problem is, the club won’t let him go and an unhealthy impasse remains that can only hinder Ten Hag.
Ask most staunch faithful and they just want him moved on so the new boss can concentrate on those who want to give their all for the team.
Which is why this friendly against Rayo Vallecano could prove to be the final, and a rather underwhelming farewell.
A first 45 minutes was all we saw from him.
Amad Diallo opens the scoring for Man Utd[/caption]
He had not been on the pre-season tour because of family reasons.
So Ten Hag clearly felt he was not up to speed for more than that.
What did we see in those 45 that ended goalless?
Well he blew what proved to be their best chance of the period on 11 minutes.
Put through by Donny van de Beek down the left hand side of the box the shot should have been to the far bottom corner.
Who are we to question the great man’s decisions when in front of goal though?
He went for the near top corner and blazed the ball into the stand.
There were some neat interactions with new signing Christian Eriksen and Van de Beek.
Amad Diallo celebrates opening the scoring[/caption]
As for the fabled press that Ten Hag is trying to introduce, well he did not look terribly interested in that.
He also looked a bit nonplussed too when during a break in play Ten Hag called the team over to give them instructions.
Ronaldo got his too and responded by putting his hands out to one side as if to say ‘And?’ or ‘that’s what I’m doing’.
Doesn’t matter really.
He didn’t reappear after the break, nor when the players clapped the fans at the end.
The player who replaced him, Amad, scored within three minutes of coming on.
Eriksen found Alex Telles whose low shot was spilled by the goalkeeper and Amad reacted first to clip the rebound in.
Eriksen had come on as a sub the previous day in the defeat to Atletico Madrid in Oslo and was enjoying his first start in a United shirt here.
As was centre back Lisandro Martinez who alongside Raphael Varane looks even smaller than his 5ft 9 “.
The tough as nails ‘Butcher’ has proved throughout his career that will not hold him back.
Although the pair of them could not hold back Vallecano from plundering a 57th minute equaliser.
Former United player Radamel Falcao had just struck the woodwork to serve warning the Spanish side weren’t here just for a run out.
Alvaro Garcia had been denied by Tom Heaton in the opening seconds but could not be denied this time.
Issac Camacho’s low shot was palmed to the side by Heaton, and Garcia was there to poke the loose ball home.
They were looking by far the better side as the game just wandered away.
Indeed by the end there was more interest amongst the fans as to whether paper aeroplanes from the Stretford End would find their intended target – Vallecano goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
So after a positive start to the pre-season a bit of air has gone out the balloon.
Three wins followed by a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa having lead 2-0 in Perth.
Saturday brought that defeat in Oslo to Atletico then this home draw.
The real test of course that will answer early questions comes here next Sunday with Brighton the visitors.
One of those questions will be whether Ronaldo will be here and then even involved.
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Probably best on all sides that they just leave it at this.
An end unbefitting of a club legend, but an end is what is needed.