Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus star is a Man Utd legend regardless of what happens on Tuesday
Ronaldo can expect several things to happen when he returns to Manchester United tonight, aiming to fire Juventus to a crucial three Champions League points.
Fans will sing his name, with gusto. The club may distance themselves from their former No 7 while accusations over his personal life swirl but supporters will not forget all he did for them during his six years at Old Trafford.
The cameras will watch his every move. Cristiano Ronaldo is a blockbuster name, the biggest in football. In his old stomping ground, the spotlight on him will only shine brighter.
And, should/when he finds the net, he can expect to hear United fans pining for him. Like they still do, when they belt ‘Viva Ronaldo’ from the terraces. Even now, it can be heard doing the rounds, particularly when the tide is going against them.
He is a club legend, a club icon. When Manchester United legends are named, he often finds himself in similar company to the likes of George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Denis Law and Ryan Giggs.
Deservedly so. Because the Ronaldo who graced the Premier League was so ridiculously good.
Yet United, somewhat surprisingly, failed to bring him home this summer. And they had a chance to.
Ronaldo’s time at Real Madrid was winding down and, though his shock move to Turin was a surprise, the writing had been on the wall.
After all, when you have won two La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns in La Liga, why would you stay?
Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus star signed for Man Utd from Sporting Lisbon
Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus star is considered a Man Utd legend
There’s a line from The Dark Knight trilogy where Heath Ledger’s Joker says: ‘You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.’
Ronaldo knew it was time to go. His Real career ‘died’ with him holding the Champions League trophy, on the back of a European campaign where he scored 15 goals from 13 outings. He left a hero. Staying, in a club as hostile as Real, could have easily seen him go the other way.
United were interested in signing Ronaldo. At least, Ed Woodward was.
Woodward craves football’s most blockbuster names. It is why the club went for Paul Pogba over N’Golo Kante, Alexis Sanchez was traded for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, even at the age of 34 at the time, was signed.
But why didn’t it happen this time around?
Cristiano Ronaldo: Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho feared for Romelu Lukaku’s development
Well, there are three reasons. Three players. Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial.
Let’s start with Sanchez. Signed from Arsenal in January, United thought they had found their Ronaldo heir. His record at the Gunners was certainly worthy of the comparisons.
And, in the summer, United thought he would come good. One goal and one assist this season, though, suggests their confidence was misplaced.
Onto Lukaku then. Well, Mourinho saw little sense in stunting the Belgian’s growth. An impressive 28 goals in his debut season did not warrant a demotion.
Ronaldo is no longer a winger; instead, he spends his time lurking in the box like a predator eyeing its prey. Mourinho, however, believed he already had his own shark.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Man Utd thought Alexis Sanchez would be better this season
The third was Martial. Woodward’s golden boy.
Tottenham came calling this summer and were swiftly rebuffed. Mourinho wanted him out but the board, so keen to meddle, said no.
Woodward thinks he’s the ticket to the top and doesn’t want anything to get in his way. There have even been supporters on social media claiming he forces Mourinho to include the 22-year-old on a regular basis.
To be fair, on the player’s current form, that makes sense. Martial is rejuvenated. He already sulked when Sanchez signed and a Ronaldo return would not have gone down well.
Ronaldo was never destined for a United return and it seems that ship has now sailed. But whether he can make it a ghost-ship with the cannons to down his old side remains to be seen.
Read more here: Daily Express :: Sport Feedhappy wheels
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