Red Devils fans saw Cristiano Ronaldo’s triumphant return to Manchester United and Old Trafford at the weekend, scoring a magnificent brace in their 4-1 victory over Newcastle United.
Prodigal Ronaldo’s first goal was a classic poach and tap in from a rebound off Newcastle keeper Freddie Woodman, that nonetheless saw the Portuguese sending the United fans into rapturous delight as he brought out his trademark celebration by the corner flag.
On a really positive note, Manchester United have had a positive start to the season, and the return of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner could be the key to taking them to the next level.
The Portuguese made his debut for the Red Devils in 2003 as a substitute against Bolton Wanderers, joining a squad that included the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Diego Forlan and Rio Ferdinand as they were just coming off a Premier League title, in the year before.
In his first spell at the club, United stormed on to win 3 more Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League, two League Cups and an FA Cup. Even after he left for Real Madrid in 2009, the Manchester club would go on to win another four league titles before Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2014.
Since then the club has been in no man’s land, reaching few finals, surviving three managers and winning just two trophies.
During the magnificent reign of fiery Scotsman Ferguson, Old Trafford was a place that was held in awe, and feared, by the majority of teams but since his retirement, United’s home ground has become a place for teams to forage for scalp victories, with Sheffield United and Burnley being two teams to leave with three points in recent memory – for the former, it was their first win at Old Trafford in 48 years.
Though 36, Ronaldo can be the catalyst to bring that bone-chilling fear factor back to the “Theatre of Dreams”. Undeniably Manchester United’s squad has undergone vast improvements this year but what has been sorely needed is a bona fide goalscorer, which the Portuguese undoubtedly is.
Furthermore, the forward is also a snug fit as the leader that has been so badly needed in this squad. It’s sometimes argued that this team lacks direction, but in Ronaldo’s first game, the likes of Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba stepped their games up and showed a real drive to get three points.
Having a player like Ronaldo will obviously raise expectations, and he certainly can make Manchester United work, and make teams dread going to Old Trafford once again.