Cristiano Ronaldo Effect: Can Portugal Star Spark Man United’s Trophy Hunt?

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United caused quite an uproar in the football world.

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United caused quite an uproar in the football world.

The Portuguese smashed shirt sales record before even setting foot on the Old Trafford as sports retailers reported his No.7 top sold more in a day than any other player has ever had. And that includes Lionel Messi and his move to PSG.

Ronaldo marked his dream return to England with a brace as his team eased past Newcastle, prompting suggestions that Portuguese superstar could be the player to lead Manchester United head first into the Premier League title fight.

The Red Devils finished as runners-up last season, trailing their city rivals by 12 points. With three wins and a draw after four rounds in the new campaign, United sit at the top, level on points with Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton.

Can Manchester United Win the League?

The Premier League predictions were quick to offer a positive response to this question, backing the Red Devils to keep winning and to challenge the reigning champions Manchester City during the 2021/22 campaign.

Cristiano Ronaldo further bolstered such notion with a sublime display in his Champions League return with Manchester United. The former Juventus forward opened the scoring in the 13th minute of their clash against Young Boys after he latched on a sublime pass from Bruno Fernandes. Things looked like a fairytale for a while with fans trusting the Champions League all-time top scorer will lead them to glory once again.

But a red card from Aaron Wan Bissaka and an appalling error from Jesse Lingard in the dying seconds of the match left Manchester United losing their Champions League opener in the 95th minute of the match.

Such an unexpected defeat in Bern has left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with plenty of questions hanging over him. The Red Devils manager was widely criticized for subbing his biggest star and introducing Jesse Lingard against Young Boys. His tactics are once again under scrutiny and the biggest question is lurking beneath the surface already:

Is Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival enough to spark Ole’s trophy hunt at United?

The Spanish media are not convinced.

One of the most reputable outlets in the country, Marca, refers to the situation around Cristiano Ronaldo as “a circus”. They claim the English press have been “obsessed” with the former Real Madrid forward, citing some of the most “embarrassing” headlines from the island.

Has Manchester United squad’s only purpose become the one to accommodate Cristiano Ronaldo’s personal objectives? Is one man bigger than the club?

Perhaps the Spanish media are too biased themselves to provide an honest opinion on such a hotly debated subject. However, the tides are shifting in England following the Champions League defeat and especially after Ronaldo’s touchline antics in the closing stages of the match in Bern. The Portuguese forward was seen shouting instructions on the touchline, never fearing to stay close to his manager and advise Man United players. The Red Devils legend Rio Ferdinand was left far from impressed with his former teammate.

“If I’m the manager, I’ve got to be honest, I’m telling him to sit down,” Ferdinand told BT Sport during the post-match coverage.

It would seem the delight over Cristiano Ronaldo’s return could end up being short-lived unless Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds a way to utilize the firepower he’s got on his hands the right way. With the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and of course Cristiano Ronaldo, the Norwegian manager is risking the wrath of the fans, pundits and his bosses alike.

Having ended his Champions League journey in the group stage last season, Ole is under pressure to take a step forward. If we were to compare him to other top-four managers in the Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the only one who is yet to prove himself at the current level. And this means challenging for the English title and going as far as possible in Europe’s elite club competition.

Ole has got a squad he himself shaped into the current form with a brilliant transfer window just shut. It will be hard to find an excuse for any potential failure at this point.

The fans are right to hope Cristiano Ronaldo’s raw professionalism will be enough to spark the team into putting their absolute best both on and off the pitch but there is another important question arising from beneath the surface – is Ole the man with enough prowess to polish the gems before him and lead United to a trophy-laden season?

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