Ronaldo 'happy to be back home' at Man Utd
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Cristiano Ronaldo, during his first spell at Manchester United, was often used on the wings. He became their wing wizard as a result, rising up to take the Premier League by storm during six years at Old Trafford. But, now, he’s primed to play as a striker instead – which represents quite a fascinating experiment.
When United lost David Beckham to Real Madrid in 2003, they originally intended to make Ronaldinho his replacement.
However, after missing out on the Brazilian to Barcelona, the Red Devils then snapped up Ronaldo instead.
As the old saying goes, the rest is history.
Ronaldo was used on the wings by Sir Alex Ferguson and, after three years of blowing hot and cold, returned from the 2006 World Cup completely transformed.
Maturer, fitter, stronger, deadlier. The minute he came back after a spat with Wayne Rooney, he was different.
And United reaped the rewards as a result.
Ronaldo, as a winger, was sensational. He bagged 42 goals in the 2008/2009 campaign that ended with the club being crowned both Premier League and Champions League winners.
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Even in his final season at the club, where he often pined for a move to Real Madrid, he bagged 26 times as United added more silverware to their cabinet.
It was only on rare occasions Ferguson would play him as a striker, usually in the Champions League when they were playing away from home.
But, for the most part, Ronaldo was used on the wing.
That’s how supporters remember him when they belt out Viva Ronaldo, sometimes on the days where Old Trafford is at its darkest.
However, now, it’s time for Ronaldo the No 9.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his former team-mate and new manager, has already suggested that’s where he’ll unleash the veteran.
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“He’s evolved as a player, he used to play wide right, wide left, up front. He’s more of a centre-forward for me at the moment, definitely,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
“But there will be games that we play with two up front, and three up front.
“I want him in the box, scoring goals… Everyone that cares for Manchester United wanted this to happen but the biggest thing is that Cristiano wanted to come here.”
And while Ronaldo may still love playing out wide, that doesn’t look set to happen.
Instead, it’ll be fascinating to see how the former Juventus and Real Madrid star adjusts to this new role in the side.
United are well-stocked for strikers at the moment.
They’ve still got Edinson Cavani, who decided to sign a new contract in May despite previously hoping to return to South America.
Mason Greenwood is ticking along nicely, with the England international bagging three goals from his first three Premier League appearances.
And Anthony Martial is still there, too, despite reports saying Joel Glazer had sanctioned his sale.
However, Ronaldo is a different kettle of fish entirely.
This is one of football’s best goalscorers in history, a player with the most goals the sport has ever seen with 785, 20 more than Pele.
So seeing him in the box, as a predator, could make for blockbuster viewing.
United have lacked a prolific goalscorer, a truly deadly one, since Wayne Rooney’s time at the club.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku and Bruno Fernandes have all came close, but ultimately failed, to netting 30 goals in a single campaign.
But Ronaldo has done this for fun, managing that every year for over a decade.
Newcastle are next up on Saturday, the club he only scored his United hat-trick against.
And given the struggles of Steve Bruce’s side, more of the same can’t be ruled out.
The age of Ronaldo, the striker, is now.
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