Cristiano Ronaldo has called on Manchester United to bounce back from their defeat by Aston Villa and arrest their slide by showing their “true strength”.
The Red Devils suffered their third loss in four games as Villa defender Kortney Hause scored a late winner at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
Bruno Fernandes had the chance to equalise from the penalty spot in added time, moments after Hause’s header, but fired his effort high over the bar.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, did not register a shot on target as he failed to score in a match for the first time since he returned to United this summer.
While the Portugal captain has been in fine form for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, results have not matched his performances.
United were beaten 2-1 by Swiss minnows Young Boys in the Champions League and they crashed out of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday with a 1-0 loss to West Ham.
Ronaldo has no doubt his teammates are capable of more and he took to social media to demand results improve swiftly.
The 36-year-old wrote on Instagram : “This is only the beginning, but in a competition as strong as the Premier League, every point counts! We must react immediately, get back on our feet and show our true strength.”
It raised eyebrows when Fernandes stepped up for the last-gasp penalty instead of Ronaldo, who took United’s previous spot kick against Newcastle United.
Red Devils boss Solskjaer confirmed the decision over the taker was made before kick-off and Ronaldo did not oppose it when Hause handled Edinson Cavani’s header.
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Fernandes has forged a steely reputation from 12 yards since arriving at Old Trafford in January 2020 and Solskjaer said he would have bet his mortgage on the 27-year-old converting.
“This is going to be the headline,” said Solskjaer after the match. “Bruno has been excellent and Cristiano is probably the one who has scored the most penalties in world football.
“It is just a missed opportunity to get a point. You will be making all these assumptions on the reactions of players.
“Bruno is such a good penalty taker and you would back him with your mortgage.”
The Norwegian also seemed to hint Ronaldo and Fernandes would continue to share penalty duties, adding: “That is football.
“He (Fernandes) will step forward every day of the week for the club and the team and sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. It is such a fine line between heaven and hell.”
United have the chance to respond to Ronaldo’s rousing message as they host Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday.