Cristiano Ronaldo is predicted to depart Man Utd subsequent yr and his exit will release a legendary shirt quantity.
It was a curse, a shirt quantity that bore an excessive amount of weight for the occupant and contributed to their demise at Manchester United. At least, that’s how the story goes.
Of all of the shirts in world soccer, there are few as symbolic as United’s No.7. The very point out of it conjures up reminiscences of George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo… twice.
For others, the cynics amongst us, it additionally harbours terrors of Michael Owen, Memphis Depay and Angel di Maria. The stress of the shirt is a lot that Antonio Valencia requested his previous quantity again, such was his demise after sporting it for one season.
Ronaldo’s return final summer season and the goals that adopted highlighted that it takes a sure sort of player to deal with such stress, although Edinson Cavani’s success the season earlier than had already completed a lot of the work.
Cavani turned a fan favorite in his first campaign on the club, although it was at all times asterisked by the very nature of the post-pandemic season and the freak outcomes it produced.
This is predicted to be Ronaldo’s final season at United, and with that comes the relinquishing of the famed shirt quantity, and with it, enormous stress for another person to fill the void, extra in order a number one determine on the club, fairly than as a player.
See, all of those that have famously donned the No.7 shirt earlier than haven’t solely been extremely gifted attacking stars, however they’ve additionally had the character to match. Rivals followers will dismiss it as vanity. There is a level of that, however extra so it’s confidence and an unbelievable quantity of self-belief.
Those who’ve struggled with the shirt haven’t had such unwavering religion in their very own talents, and the doubts have proven. Rather than being the quantity for the star player on the club, it turned one bestowed upon players they needed to hold such an affect, via sheer hope fairly than a mandatory perception.
Such a danger had labored for Ronaldo initially. He had no instant want to take the No.7 shirt when he arrived from Sporting Lisbon, however, most significantly, Sir Alex Ferguson believed he may. That ringing endorsement gave him the boldness to beat early struggles, and earlier than lengthy, the Portuguese relished the duty positioned on his shoulders.
United will need their subsequent occupant of the No.7 shirt to be in the same mould. Someone who will not be solely tremendous gifted and can promote a number of merchandise to maintain the industrial division glad, however somebody who additionally has the authority and confidence to make sure they’re a hit because it.
Right now, there seem like two main candidates for the upcoming emptiness. Jadon Sancho wore the No.7 throughout his time at Borussia Dortmund, and after a sluggish first season, he has hit the bottom working beneath Erik ten Hag.
The England worldwide actually has the trickery and expertise to be deserving of the honour, although he’ll must do it on a constant foundation all through the season if he’s to turn into the unanimous alternative.
He’ll be getting into his third season on the club by the point Ronaldo is predicted to depart and ought to be effectively accustomed to his environment by that stage, one thing that may ease the stress on him to ship instantly, as others have completed up to now.
The different candidate for the position would seem like Antony. His debut strike in opposition to Arsenal proved he has the flexibility to ship on the largest stage, although he should do much more if he’s to stay as much as his huge price ticket this season.
He has the same degree of self-belief and abilities as most of the club’s well-known former No.7s and doesn’t seem like the kind of player who can be detrimentally affected by the burden of the shirt quantity.
Again, the actual take a look at right here is for Antony to have a full season of success beneath his belt so as to justify the quantity swap and show he’s a rightful inheritor to the legacy.
Of course, there are way more essential components than a squad quantity, however for Sancho and Antony, it’s an achievable goal and an additional incentive for them to maintain up their onerous work this season.
United received’t have the ability to ever discover one other Ronaldo, however they’ll want to search out one other No.7.