Early signs look good: analysing Ronaldo’s first few games back at Manchester United
Returning to an old home with a new family can often go very badly in sports. In soccer especially, fans often seem to have long memories and will hold grudges against players who they felt betrayed them, leaving for bigger and better things instead of sticking around.
Fernando Torres was the most exciting Liverpool striker in a generation, scoring magnificent goals for fun during his first few seasons with the club. However, due to a lack of progress on the pitch, he decided he’d had enough of the North West of England and forced a transfer move south to Chelsea. The fans never forgave him, booing him incessantly every time he faced up against his former side.
For some, it can get even worse than that. Sol Campbell was a Tottenham legend, coming up through the youth teams to emerge as one of the finest central defenders of his era, going on to play for Spurs 255 times, even becoming Captain. He then committed an act of treason, deliberately running down his contract so that he could leave on a free transfer, and signed for Tottenham’s biggest rivals, Arsenal. Not only were rude songs sang about him, but he also received numerous death threats from the very fans who used to idolise him. That’s how angry they were about the move, seeing it as the ultimate act of disrespect.
Cristiano Ronaldo has always been a single-minded player, wanting to be not only the absolute best player in the world but also to be seen as the best player of all time. That’s why in 2009 he decided he needed a new challenge, and pushed for a move away from Manchester United, despite all the success he and the club had had together over the previous six years. You would expect the United faithful to take against this move, feeling that they were an even bigger club than the one he moved to, Real Madrid. However, in an interesting turn of events, Ronaldo was always welcomed to a warm reception on his return visits to Old Trafford and remained a United favourite.
This affection goes some way to explaining the reception he received on Saturday the 11th of September, when he walked out on the Old Trafford pitch in Manchester United red once again, beginning his second spell at the club. Many of the top online sports betting companies like Bovada review his move back to the Premier League as extremely exciting, offering odds on him finishing as top goalscorer in the Premier League this season, and helping United seal the title. Will this happen? A good way to find out is to look at his first few games back with the club, to see if we can see any signs of what is to come.
No one would have wanted to be the opponents in Ronaldo’s first game back with Manchester United, especially as the game was played out in front of 70,000 excitable and noisy fans. The whole world eagerly tuned into the match (except funnily enough in the UK, where the game was not broadcast live), to see if he could make an instant impact. Of course, the great entertainer he is, Ronaldo did not disappoint.
With the game looking like it was going to be tied 0-0 going into halftime, CR7 stepped up to the plate, managed to find space in the box to tap home a saved shot, to give United the lead with his first goal for them in 12 years, sending the crowd absolutely wild.
It wasn’t the most impressive goal to open his account with, but he certainly went one better with his second. Showing an impressive burst of speed for a man of his age, he latched on to a through ball, sprinted past the Newcastle United defence before lashing the goal through the legs of the on-rushing goalkeeper, to make it 2-1. Manchester United would go on to win the game 4-1, with Ronaldo obviously winning the Man of the Match award.
One of the things Ronaldo was signed for was to help United succeed in the Champions League, a competition they have struggled in over the past few seasons. In their game against the Swiss side Young Boys, Ronaldo scored the first goal, with it looking like his side would go on to win the tie with relative ease. However, due to a red card for United, Young Boys bravely fought back. Ronaldo was substituted in the second half and watched on with horror as his side lost 2-1, with the home team scoring a last-minute winner. United and Ronaldo will certainly hope this was just a minor blip and not an omen for what is to come.
Given how quickly the games come around at the moment, Ronaldo and United will be able to quickly put things right, with their upcoming fixtures against West Ham, Aston Villa, and Villareal.