Cristiano Ronaldo flirted with a Manchester City signing and has done more good than harm ever since
It’s been more than two months since the seismic 48 hours in which Cristiano Ronaldo flirted with Manchester City before returning home to the welcoming arms of Manchester United.
Could it really have happened? Ronaldo in blue, returning to Old Trafford for the Manchester derby 186 as a City player?
We will probably never know. But superagent Jorge Mendes certainly earned his commission that week, proposing the unthinkable before delivering the incredible.
Cristiano Ronaldo considered moving to City before returning to Manchester United
There have been many ups and downs since then, in keeping with life at Manchester United today, and Ronaldo has been front and center for most of it. I wouldn’t do it any other way.
Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of Ronaldo’s return is the perception in some quarters that he has had a negative impact on the club.
That seems very harsh considering the 36-year-old has done what it says on the tin and has scored nine goals in 11 games. Without him, United may already be out of the Champions League and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be out of a job.
However, football has changed and so has the Premier League. Goals, it seems, are no longer enough to justify the existence of a striker.
Ronaldo has to press, run, defend from the front; a prerequisite for any forward on Pep Guardiola’s team, which makes City’s interest in signing him all the more bizarre despite the fact that they lacked, and still are, a center forward.
So what is he, then: a savior or a lazy person? Solskjaer gave an emphatic response when brought up on the subject on Friday.
Cristiano’s stoppage time goal against Atalanta saved Manchester United from another defeat
“He is one of the best players to ever walk this planet,” said the United manager. His impact on and off the field has been absolutely immense, the way he performs. I can’t see how people can say it’s negative. He scores goals, works for his team and is a great professional ”.
The signing of Ronaldo has not been without problems. Juventus’ £ 19.6 million move came out of nowhere at a time when Solskjaer thought his squad was complete, and that has shocked other players.
Edinson Cavani lost his spot and his number 7 jersey before entering a promising partnership with Ronaldo at Tottenham last weekend. Suspended for the derby, Paul Pogba lost his position on the left side of midfield as part of the shakeup that followed United kidnapping City to sign the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Bruno Fernandes lost his temper from the point penalty.
But pointing the finger at Ronaldo when there are so many glaring shortcomings in this United team feels bad.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared Ronaldo to NBA legend Michael Jordan (pictured) this week
The club paid 73 million pounds for Jadon Sancho and has had almost nothing in return. United should have strengthened in central midfield, but failed. And they have been disappointed by veteran players like Harry Maguire and Pogba so far this season.
Ronaldo is the least of your worries. Despite the occasional tantrum, it was worth the effort.
The teams adapt to the great players and United have changed to adapt to Ronaldo. Since the Liverpool debacle two weeks ago, Solskjaer has gone from his favorite 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-1-2. It means United is less reliant on pushing and more on the counter play that has proven effective against City in the past.
After Ronaldo’s final act of rescue at Atalanta in the middle of the week, Solskjaer compared him to Michael Jordan.
It was an interesting comparison and even more so when Scottie Pippen came out the next day and criticized her former Chicago Bulls teammate ‘condescending’ for his role in the documentary The Last Dance.
Solskjaer called Ronaldo ‘one of the best players to ever walk this planet’ on Friday.
They reminded him of the comments Leonardo Bonucci made about Ronaldo last month when he claimed that Juventus are playing more like a team without the former Real Madrid star.
Ronaldo, like Jordan, won’t mind. The best athletes do not. The numbers speak for themselves and they continue to do what they have always done. Some colleagues appreciate it, others don’t.
In a stellar career, Ronaldo’s record in the Manchester derby could improve a bit. In 11 games during his first spell at United, he scored four goals and got two red cards, both at Etihad.
So what would it have been like for United to line up against him today?
“The good thing is that that will never happen and there is no possibility of that happening,” Solskjaer said. “I’m happy he’s dressed in red, and I hope he can make a difference again.”
Guardiola seemed even more reluctant to discuss what it might have been. “Normally I don’t talk about players from other clubs,” the City manager said yesterday.
I’m pretty sure Cristiano Ronaldo is happy at Manchester United and United are happy to have him. That is all.’