Cristiano Ronaldo has done everything there is to do in football – but one club legend at Manchester United believes he has the potential to be even better than he was in his first stint at the club.
Ronaldo, 36, arrived back at Old Trafford with all the fanfare in the world, and he did not disappoint on his second debut, scoring twice in a 4-1 win.
And United legend Paul Parker believes that the forward may well go on to eclipse his first spell in Manchester.
“He’s definitely a more intelligent player than the one who left,” Parker said, exclusively on this week’s Talking Devils podcast. “I remember watching Ronaldo in his first game and I think he frustrated players on the pitch. It took him a long time to develop into the player who left Old Trafford as a superstar. He’s come back as a very intelligent player. Maybe not the quickest, but still quicker than most players in the Premier League.”
“He’s physically stronger, and braver, and more than anything he wants to prove himself that he’s as good as he was before. It’s a great thing to have, rather than coming back and knowing everyone loves him. He wants to prove he’s a better player, a more intelligent player. He wants to go out and win things. He hasn’t just come back to be around the man he respects most in football, Sir Alex. He wants to win things and everything that goes with that.”
Saturday was a great day all around, except perhaps for Jadon Sancho – the new signing from Borussia Dortmund was substituted as his United career gets off to a more underwhelming start than the other headline signings of the summer.
Parker admits to ‘concern’ only due to the knee-jerk reactions of the modern fan. “It is a concern,” he said. “Nobody’s talking about him now when for the last season and a half people were saying ‘sign him’. He’s become a little bit invisible and hasn’t had a great impact at the moment. It takes a little time – you don’t get much time these days before people on social media start to look for you. Ronaldo’s arrival means people haven’t looked at Sancho so much because he definitely hasn’t hit the ground running.”
You can see the full podcast here, where Paul and author Wayne Barton discuss the Newcastle game and preview the week ahead.