Why Cristiano Ronaldo rejoined Manchester United
This morning, Cristiano Ronaldo seemed certain to join
Man City. This evening, Man United have announced they
are re-signing him.
Ronaldo will doubtless score more than the six goals
Sanchez managed in 18 miserable months in Manchester.
Manchester never felt like home for Sanchez whereas it
was home to Ronaldo for six years.
“I’m coming home,” Ronaldo said after Real Madrid were
drawn with Manchester United in the 2013 Champions
League knockout stage. A homecoming seemed possible
that year and United pulled on Ronaldo’s heartstrings on
his Old Trafford return, the stadium compere announcing
his name last. Ronaldo was startled and felt ‘shy’. He still
scored the winner.
It seemed the United ship had sailed, though. As of this
morning, Ronaldo seemed bound for Manchester – to City.
Then Sir Alex Ferguson intervened and, once Ronaldo was
aware of United’s interest, he rejected City. Ronaldo may
regret selling his Alderley Edge abode in early 2019.
Ronaldo was not on United’s shortlist at the start of the
summer as they expected him to see out his contract with
Juventus. Once it became clear he was available, they
reacted with alacrity.
HOW CRISTIANO RONALDO’S RETURN TO MANCHESTER
The Glazer family knew the seismic signing of Ronaldo
would be the ultimate feel-good story in a year their
treachery over the Super League provoked protests
outside and inside Old Trafford. Ronaldo’s return is similar
to the starry signing of Tom Brady for the Glazers’ NFL
franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, last year. The Bucs
won their first Super Bowl in 18 years in February.
Senior United sources say Ronaldo believes the club is
building towards a new era of success, despite going more
than four years without winning a trophy. Ronaldo won
everything during his six years with United between
2003-09 but has ‘unfinished business’.
There are familiar faces in the Carrington dressing room
and on reception, where Kath Phipps still sits. Ronaldo
posed with former teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s
children for a picture in Cardiff in 2014 and Michael
Carrick, another old teammate and now first-team coach,
requested a signed shirt from Ronaldo for his son, Jacey.
Darren Fletcher broke into the United team in the same
season as Ronaldo, the pair pivotal in the uplifting 2004 FA
Cup semi-final triumph over Arsenal at Villa Park.
United were already expected to challenge for the title on
the strength of the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael
Varane. Now they will be expected to win it. They have
prevented City from recruiting their fall-back option up
front and Ronaldo outscored Romelu Lukaku last season.
United are adamant Ronaldo is not a nostalgic signing and
insist it is ‘about writing a new chapter in the club’s and
his own history’. They did not need another forward and
Ronaldo immediately becomes their highest earner on a
£480,000-a-week two-year contract at a time United are
trying to convince Paul Pogba to commit.
Yet if ever there is an exception to be made, it is for
Ronaldo, a world-class footballer, prolific goalscorer,
serial winner, and leader. United believe Ronaldo, at 36,
can also aid the development of their younger players.
PEP GUARDIOLA RESPONDS TO CRISTIANO RONALDO
United are not concerned by the impact Ronaldo could
have on other forwards and have stressed this is likely to
be ‘a long, hard season ahead and there will be plenty of
games to go round for all of the attacking talent in our
Still, their attacking options include Ronaldo, Pogba, Bruno
Fernandes, Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Anthony
Martial, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, Daniel James, and
Jesse Lingard. That is unsustainable now, never mind until
the January transfer window, and they have still not sold a
single player this summer.
The club has already clarified Cavani will not leave. The
number seven is likely to be vacant next year, though.