Ronnie O’Sullivan has lost some magic, says Alan McManus

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s game has changed over his many years at the top (Picture: Getty Images)

Alan McManus believes ‘some of the magic’ of Ronnie O’Sullivan has gone and he is now ‘systematically dismantling opponents’ with his play.

The Rocket is enjoying an immense season so far, winning five titles including the UK Championship and Masters, sitting pretty at the top of the world rankings.

The 48-year-old got his Tour Championship campaign underway on Wednesday night in some style, hammering Ali Carter 10-2, with nine half-centuries along the way.

Despite his wildly successful campaign so far, O’Sullivan has admitted frustrations with his technique, telling ITV: ‘This year I’ve got the wins but technically I’ve been terrible, probably my worst year technically.

‘I’ve had to grind out the wins and that’s never going to give me much satisfaction.’

Former Masters champion McManus sees where the Rocket is coming from because he believes O’Sullivan’s game has changed from the spectacular to the ruthlessly efficient.

It is no bad thing as it is a game that will win a lot of matches, but may not earn O’Sullivan as many spots on a highlight reel.

‘I kind of get what Ronnie’s driving at when he’s saying he’s frustrated with certain things,’ McManus said on ITV.

2024 Johnstone's Paint Tour Championship - Day 3

O’Sullivan is into the last four at the Tour Championship in Manchester (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’ve been saying this for three or four years, I think some of the magic of O’Sullivan has gone and what I mean by that is the showboating long-potting and all that, it’s all cue ball now, that’s all it is with him.

‘He gets in close, he was 95 per cent positional play today in the match [against Carter] and that’s very, very high. That means that you’re right in behind the next shot pretty much every time and that means he can break-build. He makes it look a bit matter of fact.

‘I think some of those extravagant shots have gone from his game and he doesn’t need them because of his talent, he doesn’t need it. It’s systematic dismantling of opponents.’

Stephen Hendry agreed with his fellow pundit’s assessment, saying O’Sullivan has become more of a ‘percentage player’ in recent years, but that makes him no less dangerous.

‘He’s become…sometimes “percentage player” is a derogatory term, but he’s a percentage player, he doesn’t take any risks,’ said Hendry. ‘He plays a great safety, he gets in and takes what’s there and that’s a powerful weapon.’

O’Sullivan’s resounding win over the Captain booked a spot in the Tour Championship semi-finals where he will take on either Gary Wilson or Zhang Anda on Friday.


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