If Monday night’s victory against Brentford is Cristiano Ronaldo’s last game in front of a home Manchester United crowd, he will be able to leave the club on a good note.
Unlike so many games this season in which Ronaldo’s goals have covered up flaws, the 37-year-old was crucial to the victory even though he did not score.
Ronaldo was even tracking back to reclaim the ball before combining with Bruno Fernandes, Juan Mata, and Anthony Elanga in a way that United supporters had not seen before this season.
Granted, the fact that Brentford aren’t playing for anything has to be considered, but United looked something of a coherent offensive team at moments, all while dealing effectively defensively with Christian Eriksen’s wonderful throws.
After breaking behind the Brentford defense in the first 10 minutes, Fernandes scored from an Elanga cross, then Mata teed up Ronaldo for another goal on the break.
That, however, was ruled out by VAR due to an offside call, and United headed into the half-time break with a one-goal advantage.
United definitely kicked it up a notch after that. Led by Ronaldo, Mata and Nemanja Matic both performed in what will undoubtedly be their last performances for Manchester United on home soil.
Raphael Varane would add a third as fans waved goodbye to a number of players, many of whom had not lived up to their hype.
It was a bizarre, almost testimonial-like environment in many respects. After a game that didn’t really matter, the handbrake was released, and at least part of the gloom was lifted as Mata, Matic, and Edinson Cavani were cheered off the United stage.
Erik Ten Hag’s era is approaching, and Ronaldo’s future is unknown. For the other players who had been labeled as “deadwood” for most of the last four years, it was at least a cordial farewell.