The Ronaldo Revolution.
He returned the all-conquering hero with which he had departed. All the pomp and ceremony that had heralded the return of Old Trafford’s favourite son was not to be undone. He delivered with aplomb on his promise of not just being back for a vacation. I am of course talking about the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo.
It wasn’t until he hopped, skipped and jumped out of the tunnel at the Theatre of Dreams just before 3pm on a heady Saturday afternoon did I dare to believe that he had actually re-signed for the Reds.
This is the stuff that dreams are made of. Not that long ago, fans were protesting on the same hallowed turf against the ownership of our great club, yet here we were celebrating in unison a transfer that no-one expected in their wildest of dreams. Such is the aura of the man that even the instrumental Sir Alex Ferguson wore a broad smile across his face for the entire game, even when Newcastle dared to equalise, he knew that his protégé would get the team back on track.
His return started with a miss-kick that had to be put down to nerves, he is only human after all. Then our latest superstar, Mason Greenwood, tried his luck from the edge of the box, the keeper spilled the shot and Ronaldo was in the right place at the right time to slot in the rebound. The famous stadium erupted with a cheer that hasn’t been heard for years, a cheer filled with such feeling and emotion that it must have reverberated all over Manchester, right up to the Etihad. Cue the now famous Ronaldo celebration, with the fans screaming out his trademark cheer. He was back and yes you could stop pinching yourself.
Newcastle clearly hadn’t read the script and dared to equalise. No worries, we had a new, old, number 7 up front. The impressive Luke Shaw must have burst his lungs with a forward run of such power that most of the team found it difficult to keep up with him, but not Ronaldo. He was already one step ahead, planning what to do once he received the ball. And receive it he did and with ease struck a shot through the keeper right in front of the Stretford End, who were already celebrating once the ball had left his boot.
That was it, he had announced his return with a style that could only be produced by him. Those of us who have now been lucky enough to bear witness to both his debuts can only find themselves not quite believing what they had witnessed. Two debuts some 18 years apart that will both live long in the memory. In the future, fans will ask that all too familiar question. Where were you when Ronaldo made his 2nd United debut?
He has single-handedly generated a new sense of purpose around the club, not just in the fans but also the players sharing the pitch with him. There is a new optimism and belief that was palpable to see among all the players, even those on the bench. Who wouldn’t want to share playing time with this man.
Thank you, Cristiano, for making us believe once again, and we look forward to celebrating more trophies and getting the club back to where they truly belong.