Cristiano Ronaldo rekindles love affair with Manchester United

CHRIS WHEELER: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was smirking, the players were celebrating, the Ronaldo deal was done… it’s the rekindling of a love affair for the Portuguese superstar and Manchester United

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could not conceal his glee as the transfer moved closer
  • The Norwegian revealed that Bruno Fernandes had spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo 
  • The atmosphere at Carrington was transformed within the space of a few hours 
  • The signing of Ronaldo is intended to bring a winning mentality back to the club
  • Ronaldo’s return reignites a special love affair between the star and the club 

He was asked about it three times and three times he tried to straight-bat an answer. On the fourth occasion, however, it was almost as if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could not contain his excitement any longer. As if he simply had to tell everyone the news.

So what was his take on the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer saga? ‘We’ve always had a good communication,’ smirked the Manchester United manager.

‘I know Bruno (Fernandes) has been talking to him. He knows what we feel about him. If he was ever going to move away from Juventus, he knows we’re here.’

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could not hide his delight as Cristiano Ronaldo’s signing edged closer

The Norwegian revealed that Bruno Fernandes had been speaking to his superstar compatriot

The 36-year-old’s return is a rekindling of a love affair between himself and the Red Devils 

So there it was. The latest twist in what has been a spectacular summer transfer window.

Ronaldo returning to United, not tarnishing any legacies by joining Manchester City. He is coming home.

At Carrington, where players had arrived on Friday morning asking why United were not doing more to stop Ronaldo from joining City, frustration gave way to celebration as word got out at 10.30am. 

Solskjaer knew the deal was on when he spoke to the media at lunchtime, and confirmation came from the club at 5pm.

The reverberations of this sensational deal will be felt by United fans all over the globe

The reverberations will be felt by United fans all over the globe. 

Ronaldo rejoins Manchester United.  The resumption of a love affair that began when the spotty teenager from Sporting Lisbon arrived at Old Trafford in 2003.

When he left six years later in a then world-record £80million move to Real Madrid, he was a Champions League and three-time Premier League winner and arguably the greatest footballer on the planet.

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United have not been the same since. Just six major honours won in the last 12 years. Domination gone. Supremacy lost.

Ronaldo is a symbol of a golden age. A player revered at Old Trafford more than any in the modern era with the possible exception of Eric Cantona.


The only player to have been revered as much by United fans in the modern era is Eric Cantona

Gerard Houllier and Phil Thompson were flabbergasted when Ronaldo first joined United

No one is pretending he is the same force at 36. But he is still an incredible physical specimen; one capable of top-scoring in Italy for the past two seasons in a career that has produced 783 goals in 1,074 games.

When it became clear he was leaving Juventus, United knew they simply had to try to bring him back. 

The prospect of him joining City will only have hardened their resolve. His Portugal team-mate Fernandes called him on Thursday night, and it is believed Sir Alex Ferguson — a trusted father figure to Ronaldo — may also have intervened to exercise his powers of persuasion.

When Ferguson brought Ronaldo to the club, former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier and his assistant Phil Thompson almost choked on their breakfast in the canteen at Melwood as the news broke. Liverpool thought they had a deal in place with Sporting.

Eighteen years on and Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford was just as surprising to the rest of us. City were not quite as blind-sided as Liverpool. 

They were cautious in discussions after being approached by the player’s agent, Jorge Mendes, last week.

Ronaldo was Serie A top scorer in his last two seasons at Juventus despite his advancing years

No one was getting carried away at the Etihad, and with good reason it turned out.

But this is still a spectacular deal for United. One that could do more for the sagging popularity of the Glazer family than any other since they took over the club.

The Americans had already spent £116m on Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane this summer, and acquiring Ronaldo for an additional £21m makes this a United team to be reckoned with.

How will they fit him into a forward line that features Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba, Fernandes, Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood? 

Who cares, he is Cristiano Ronaldo. That is Solskjaer’s job now and the United manager knows he has the tools at his disposal to launch a serious assault on the Premier League and Europe.

Sources last night insisted this is about opening a new chapter in the club’s history. About drawing on Ronaldo’s winning mentality, leadership skills and professionalism that have earned him the Ballon d’Or five times as well as 30 major trophies.

Sir Alex Ferguson is thought to have persuaded Ronaldo to return to the red half of Manchester

How Ronaldo fits into an attack with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba is intriguing

Not a vain attempt to turn back the clock or a sentimental trip down memory lane. Ronaldo’s performances at Euro 2020 would suggest that is not the case.

It is said he did not hesitate once he knew of United’s interest. He left Turin and headed for Lisbon, where he was having a medical while on international duty with Portugal.

Besides an emotional return to United, the opportunity to have his children educated in England is also believed to appeal to him.

He joins a long list of big names who have gone back for a second spell at their clubs. 

Solskjaer is looking to tap into the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s vast bank of knowledge

Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford holds similar significance to Thierry Henry’s Arsenal reunion

Think Mark Hughes to United, Thierry Henry to Arsenal, Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler to Liverpool, Didier Drogba to Chelsea and Teddy Sheringham and Gareth Bale to Tottenham.

They have done it with varying degrees of success and time will tell how just wise this move was for Ronaldo and United.

Those who knew him first time around recall a player who would always make sure he was last off the team bus to guarantee a bigger cheer from fans than his team-mates.

Ronaldo has always liked a grand entrance, and his second coming at United on Friday was no exception.




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