Sir Alex Ferguson has praised Cristiano Ronaldo’s immediate impact on his return to Manchester United.
The legendary manager was in the stands at Old Trafford as Ronaldo scored a double against Newcastle on his second debut for the club.
The Portuguese followed that up with goals against Young Boys and West Ham and Ferguson, who signed Ronaldo when he was 18 from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, is delighted to see him back at the club.
“It’s fantastic,” Ferguson told the UTD Podcast. “You saw on that Saturday [against Newcastle] that it was like Caesar entering Rome after victory. ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’ It was fantastic.
“I mean, for anyone who is a United fan, we could have had a million people in there, without doubt, as there were so many outside, hundreds outside. It’s one of these things. When he was here as a kid, his learning process was very, very quick.
“A lot of people said he was a diver and there was a little spell of that but, after that, he was attacking defenders and all he needed was a nudge and he would waltz by them. He would attack with unbelievable speed. I think the increasing knowledge of his game – I think he was born with a desire.
“He sacrificed himself to be the best. I remember we were playing Arsenal on the Saturday and it was pouring with rain at Carrington. I said to him, and you know he would always practice after training, and I said, ‘In. We’ve got a game tomorrow and it’s too wet. The ground is too soft.’
“So I went into my office, looked out of the window and what did he do? He went on the Astroturf. I had no argument! I couldn’t say anything to him. He’s beat me.”
Ferguson said Ronaldo’s dream of playing for Real Madrid meant he didn’t stand in his way when the Spanish giants came calling in 2009.
“I was not against that, six years was great for a boy from Madeira, getting him here just after his 18th birthday,” he said.
“I think we did well that way and it gave me a chance to get a replacement. We got Antonio Valencia and he was fantastic so we were very lucky that way.
“I knew [how good he would become]. Absolutely. I knew that. When he got to that kind of platform at Real Madrid. To be fair to Real, they are one club that has produced world-class players for years and years and won the European cup so many times, 13 or something. You’ve got to give them credit – it is a platform where any great player would love to go to.”
Speaking on his latest podcast, Gary Neville says Man Utd must learn to play like a team if they are to challenge for the title, and must win a trophy in the next 18 months.
United lost for the third time in four games in all competitions, going down 1-0 at home to Aston Villa on Saturday following their Carabao Cup third-round defeat by West Ham on Wednesday.
After signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane in the summer, Neville says there is pressure on the club to win a trophy in the next 18 months, but he believes the club will see out the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer project, because sacking managers previously has not worked.
Neville also reflects on Manchester City’s impressive win at Chelsea on Saturday, as well as Arsenal’s north London derby blitz against Tottenham on Super Sunday.