Cristiano Ronaldo transfer means no excuses if Solskjaer cannot turn Manchester United into champions

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·4-min read
Cristiano Ronaldo transfer means no excuses if Solskjaer cannot turn Manchester United into champions
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The message coming out of Old Trafford after the sensational return of Cristiano Ronaldo was that the move was about creating a new chapter, not reliving the past.

In truth, it is a bit of both for Manchester United – a club desperate to get back to where they were before the Portugal legend’s departure 12 years ago.

They have been in a state of decline ever since that summer when his world-record move to Real Madrid and Carlos Tevez’ defection to Manchester City changed the landscape of English football forever.

It represented a shift in the balance of power, but Friday may have been a significant step in shifting it back.

It is not just that Ronaldo is the most mega of mega-signings.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

There have been plenty of those at United since he left in 2009; Angel di Maria, Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez all fit that description.

It is what his return represents and the timing of it in relation to United’s evolution.

Forget the ongoing concerns about a defensive midfielder; Ronaldo should be the final piece of the jigsaw.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had time to build a squad in his image, and now he has stacked with world-class quality.

Two centre-backs of the highest calibre in Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane; two elite midfielders in Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba; a forward line bursting with pace, goals, winning experience and youth.

There are no excuses if he cannot turn them into Premier League champions.

He now has the resources to take on Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel in a manner his predecessors post-Sir Alex Ferguson never did.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

In fact, he presides over the strongest United squad since Ronaldo left.

Ferguson carried on winning titles with far less depth of talent. If Solskjaer is a United manager then he must be able to make the most of the hand he has been given.

Ronaldo clearly saw the potential of the club he was joining.

City would have been the easy option for a man obsessed with winning.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

He will have seen himself as the man capable of making them Champions League winners at long last.

It is less likely he will do likewise at United – but he will also believe he is the man to wake the sleeping giant.

That is the significance of his return – his faith in what the future holds at Old Trafford.

It is a move that takes United forward in leaps and bounds before he has even kicked a ball.

It is reconfirmation of them as a club that can attract the very best – not least coming at the end of a window that already saw them recruit one of the world’s brightest young stars in Jadon Sancho, and a stellar talent in Varane.

It does not erase the years of mismanagement that date back to the moment Ronaldo walked away – but it should confirm to supporters the determination to reclaim their place at the summit of English football.

It is easy to paint Ed Woodward as the man solely responsible for the remarkable managing down of quality at the club – but it began before he took the reins.

A fans' banner (PA Wire)
A fans' banner (PA Wire)

It started with the departures of Ronaldo and Tevez – only to replace them with Antonio Valencia and an aging Michael Owen.

In that incredible summer of 2009, United not only managed to lose Ronaldo to Real – but then had to watch as the Spanish giants then signed the very man Ferguson planned to replace him with: Karim Benzema.

United’s insistence on a cash-only deal also saw them fail to negotiate potential part-exchange deals for Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben – two players they would later covet.

That Ferguson continued to win titles and even reach another Champions League Final is down to his managerial genius. Once he retired, the house of cards came tumbling.

Louis van Gaal could not see the wood for the trees as he carved up the squad he inherited.

By the time Solskjaer got the keys to Old Trafford, he was dealing with a group of players put together by four different managers that suited no specific style of play and was heading in one direction.

To his credit he has delivered a focus not seen since Ferguson – but he has also had the benefit of financial and patience unlike any of United’s three previous managers.

Now the building is complete.

Fred may not be N’Golo Kante – but nor is Rodri, and that did not stop City from cruising to the title last season.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Solskjaer will never be in a position where he has a Ronaldo-calibre player for every position, but he has a squad the envy of the majority of Europe.

Ronaldo is the game-changer. He may be past his best – but he is still close to, if not, the best.

United are desperate to get back to what they were – and he is the man to take them there.

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