United have taken a bold move by bringing back the 36-year-old on a big-money contract despite his popularity among supporters, while his legendary club status is questionable
I love a bit of nostalgia and that’s why, even as a Liverpool fan, I (slightly) enjoyed the romance of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester United to finish his career.
Football wise, the Ronaldo signing seems an odd one though.
For me he’s a bit too old, not quite mobile enough and far too expensive, and I think Manchester United should have prioritised signing a top defensive centre midfielder.
His contract suggests he will be playing well beyond his 39th birthday and although I concede that he has the biological body of a considerably younger man, whilst Father Time hasn’t quite found out
where Ronaldo lives just yet, he looks to at least be on the right street.
We are told that “Ronaldo doesn’t run as much as he used to” by various pundits – I think that throwaway observation puts too rosey a slant on his significantly dwindled explosiveness, speed and stamina.
Last season, Ronaldo was in the bottom 2% of forwards in Europe’s top five leagues in terms of pressures per 90 minutes.
As he conserves his energy, he will leave United tactically exposed at times, as he did Juventus and rather than adding to the team’s philosophy, he will actually need “catering for”.
That said, he will score goals – not that United need them, as last season they were the Premier League’s second highest scorers – and the dressing room standards he will set will be a great example to the younger players.
Business wise the move was a no brainer. United’s share price rose by £200million+ as news of Ronaldo’s signing emerged.
United also prevented the potential image of him playing in sky blue for their cross-city rivals, which would have hurt the Red Devils already fading global reputation.
The announcement almost broke social media as well, which now days is as important as any other aspect of football’s business side.
Whilst I can see the pros and cons of signing Ronaldo, one thing I don’t understand is the endlessly peddled narrative that he is a Manchester United “legend” because put simply, Ronaldo isn’t a Manchester United legend – he is a Real Madrid legend.
The legend tag is almost as daft as the suggestions that the Island of Madeira native, who joined Sporting Lisbon at 12 years old and broke into their first team to make 25 appearances in Portugal’s top league, was in some way “coming home” to Manchester – where he played for six seasons before asking to leave for his dream move to Real Madrid.
Ronaldo doesn’t sit alongside the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Matt Busby, Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best, Duncan Edwards, Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs or even Wayne Rooney.
Imagine if Man Utd said they were building a statue of him at Old Trafford – you’d wince as much as when Birmingham City retired Jude Bellingham’s shirt number when he signed for Borussia Dortmund.
If Ronaldo can come back and miraculously led United to their first Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson left, either through his goals or his presence, then and only then should he be considered worthy of United’s legendary status.