How much of an impact would a Cristiano Ronaldo return have at Old Trafford?
On the 12th of August 2003, Manchester United signed a skinny lad from Sporting Lisbon for £12 million.
A scruffy, 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Old Trafford with little more than dribbling and a few fancy tricks to his game.
The confidence, talent and potential to become a world beater was all there for the Portuguese born winger, and Sir Alex Ferguson did an absolutely fantastic job in nurturing this young prodigy.
The former Sporting star spent countless hours in the gym to compete with the physicality of the Premier League, his hard work has been rewarded, with him now being recognised as one of the best athletes in world football.
He also honed his skills, on and off the field. Ronaldo would put in extra training sessions after team-mates had left, practising free kicks, finishing, dribbling etc. This was one of the main reasons he was such a success at Manchester United.
Ronaldo won several trophies during his spell at United, such as the F.A Cup, League Cup, the Premier League and the Champions League. He also won the Ballon d’Or in 2008, ranking him as the world’s best player.
Cristiano left for Real Madrid for a then transfer record £80 million in 2009 and he certainly did no shame to United’s famous number seven shirt, Old Trafford legend George Best even said he was “complimented” that Ronaldo was compared to him.
The now Real Madrid superstar scored 118 goals in all competitions for United in 242 appearances, and fans were heartbroken when he left, having given them so much joy over the years.
The two time Ballon d’Or winner is enjoying life in Spain with Real, and recently won their tenth and his second Champions League, scoring a penalty in a 4-1 defeat of Atletico Madrid in his hometown of Lisbon.
His scarcely believable goalscoring record that he accumulated at United is still exactly that at the La Liga outfit, scoring 228 goals in 204 appearances in all competitions.
A return to Manchester United was spoken of last year, but all hope of a reunion was vanished when Ronaldo put pen to paper on a new deal at Madrid, his buyout clause is now €1 billion. Upon signing his new contract, Ronaldo said “I love Manchester United, but it is my past. Real Madrid is my future.”
However, more speculation has risen due to Ronaldo’s apparent dismay of Real Madrid’s sale of last season’s Champions League final man of the match Angel Di Maria to Manchester United.
Cristiano himself has said he one day wants to return to United, stating in an interview, “I love Manchester. Everyone knows that. Manchester is in my heart.” The 29-year-old Galactico also said, “I left many good friends there. The supporters are amazing and I wish I can come back one day.”
When asked about the prospect of returning to the Red Devils, Ronaldo said, “I am happy in Real Madrid and have four more years (on my contract), but in the future you never know because I was treated unbelievably there. I really did love being at Manchester United”.
Just the mere thought of a United front three of Di Maria, Falcao and Ronaldo with either Rooney or Mata in the hole is mouthwatering, and United fans all over the world would fancy their chances of winning any game, despite their current defensive frailties.
The impact Ronaldo’s return would have at Old Trafford would be monumental, both on and off the pitch. Fans would have a renewed sense of optimism despite their sides awful start to the campaign, given that Ronaldo can win a game, all by himself, in a matter of moments.
On the pitch he would bring much needed goals, electric pace, plenty of show boating and fancy skills and tricks down United’s left wing. He would bring joy to Manchester United’s current state of despair.
Off the pitch, just on the team sheet, Ronaldo would strike genuine fear into any opposition. Ronaldo terrifies even the best of defenders, he is intimidating. This fear that has not been there since Ferguson retired as boss, a key factor in their humiliating home defeats over the last year, teams used to hate the idea of going to Old Trafford, now they fancy their chances.
To sum up, Cristiano Ronaldo would bring nothing more and nothing less than he did when he last pulled on the famous Manchester United shirt.
Magical moments such as his 40 yard rocket against FC Porto in the Champions League a few years back, “that” free kick against Portsmouth that left David James clueless as to what had happened, and who can forget his header in the 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea to open the scoring?
Of course, United already have big names at the club after the summer’s transfers, Di Maria and Falcao in particular.
But neither of them are in the same category as Cristiano, and if you told United fans to choose between keeping Di Maria and Falcao or having Cristiano Ronaldo back, the majority would, undoubtedly, choose the latter.
It will probably be a long time before United win any silverware, but bringing Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club where is he adored by fans and feared by rivals would be a trophy in itself.
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