Ronaldo brings ‘magic’ back to Premier League but pressure on Solskjaer to get best out of squad – Man Utd icon Sharpe to RT Sport

Ronaldo brings ‘magic’ back to Premier League but pressure on Solskjaer to get best out of squad – Man Utd icon Sharpe to RT Sport

The return of Cristiano Ronaldo can turn Manchester United into serious title contenders but the onus is on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to extract the best from the talent at his disposal, according to Old Trafford icon Lee Sharpe.

Ronaldo is set for his second coming at United when they host Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday.

The return of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has exhilarated the United fanbase, who also reveled in the arrival of 21-year-old England winger Jadon Sancho and former Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane earlier in the summer.

Ronaldo, however, is the cherry on the cake as the prolific Portuguese star returns to the club where he emerged as a world-beater before departing for Real Madrid in 2009.

Before Ronaldo, former United winger Sharpe was one of a host of icons to make their name flying down the flank for the Old Trafford giants, winning a hat-trick of Premier League titles and the European Cup Winners’ Cup, among other accolades.

Sharpe, 50, says Ronaldo’s return will be a major boost for United and the Premier League as a whole.

“Manchester United have been building a strong team and now with addition of Ronaldo they have a fabulous squad,” Sharpe told RT Sport.  

“Ronaldo will be great for the Premiership and exciting to watch. He’ll bring his magic and a sparkle back to the game.”

Sharpe was a United hero during his time at the club. © Action Images
Ronaldo had a successful first spell at United before making more history at Real Madrid. © Reuters

Sharpe’s success at United came under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson – a man Ronaldo has credited with being key to his return to Old Trafford from Juventus.

This time round, Ronaldo will be managed by former teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Norwegian, 48, is widely seen as steadying the ship and restoring a feel-good factor after the turbulent ending to Jose Mourinho’s tenure, but is yet to win a trophy after almost three years in charge.

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Cristiano Ronaldo has reported to Manchester United training. ©
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Sharpe suggested doubts remain over Solskjaer’s ability to get the best out of a squad stocked with talent, but if he can do so, United will finally be able to end their eight-season wait for league glory.

“I’m not sure if Ole is the manager to bring out the best in the squad,” said Sharpe, who was capped eight times by England. 

“Hopefully he is, and if he can get them playing as a team with energy, they must surely be serious title contenders.”

Solskjaer now needs to get the best out of his team, says United icon Sharpe. © Reuters
Anticipation is building at United ahead of Ronaldo's 'second debut'. © Reuters

After fans’ appetites have been whetted with a tsunami of promotional clips, all eyes will be on Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon as Ronaldo prepares for his return.

Solskjaer said at a Friday press conference that the star would play some part against Newcastle, having spent the week training with his new teammates.

That was facilitated by Ronaldo’s early return from duty with Portugal, where he received a suspension for a yellow card against Ireland after becoming the all-time top scorer in men’s international football. 

“He has had a good week with us here and he will definitely be on the pitch at some point that is for sure,” Solskjaer told the press on Friday.

During his first spell at United between 2003 and 2009, Ronaldo struck 118 goals in 292 games, helping the club to an array of titles including three consecutive Premier League crowns and the Champions League in 2008.

On the personal front, Ronaldo won the first of his five Ballon d’Or accolades while at Old Trafford.

After it looked like Ronaldo could join bitter crosstown rivals Manchester City this summer, United swooped to bring him back in a €15 million (£12.8 million) deal with Juventus, with a possible €8 million more in add-ons.   

Ronaldo had one year remaining on his deal with the Serie A giants but had reportedly grown frustrated with life in Turin, having failed to help the club to end their 25-year wait for Champions League glory.  

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Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer (inset, center) says Cristiano Ronaldo will play in the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle © Paul Ellis / Reuters | © Phil Noble / Reuters
‘There is no place to hide’: Man United boss Solskjaer challenges stars, confirms Ronaldo will make second debut against Newcastle


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