Dubai: My Fantasy Premier League team made a slow start to the season but as soon as Cristiano Ronaldo’s fairytale return to Man Utd from Juventus on transfer deadline day was confirmed, I snapped him up and made him my captain. I knew he would turn on the style and get me some much needed points and on his second debut the Portuguese superstar did not disappoint. He brought the Old Trafford roof down by scoring twice 12 years after his last appearance for the club.
Some have questioned whether he still has it in him to play at the highest level but I have never doubted this for a second. We are talking about the greatest footballer of all time. In fact, he is Superman in a football jersey! Producing magical moments is what he does best and he did so against a sorry Newcastle side. The Utd faithful were clamoring to see him start the match and his coach and former teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named him in the starting 11 which proved to be an astute move as he went on to do the business. It was like he had never been away.
Touch of class
He showed several nice touches and neat interplay with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernades, Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho before finding the back of the net late on in the first half from close range and followed it up with his trademark celebration.
He then grabbed his second early in the second half to complete his dream debut and help Utd on to a comfortable 4-1 win. He had been putting in the hard yards at Utd’s Carrington training ground and looked sharp and keen to impress from the first minute.
Following his sensational return he has immediately been installed as Utd’s go-to man and for good for good reason. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner scored 101 goals in 134 games at Juventus, 451 in 438 games at Real Madrid and 118 in 292 games in his first spell with the Red Devils. He is their star man without any doubt - but this team is flooded with talented players that all suddenly want to show their quality. They have upped their game – and Ronaldo, who has proven himself in all the top European leagues, will demand they keep those levels up.
The highest goalscorer in men’s international football isn’t just back at Utd to play out his days – he wants to go out in style by winning more titles. He isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, that’s for sure; last season in Serie A he scored 33 goals in 39 games and following his superb debut you get the feeling that he will play consistently for Solskjaer and I reckon he will be the top scorer this season. He’ll be closely matched by Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku but I think he has the skill and experience to beat them.
Famously, after joining Juventus, their medical team said he had the body of a 23-year-old. He’s 36 - but his age means nothing as he continues to keep himself at the absolute peak of physical condition. He could well go on until he is 40 and if he does I would not be surprised at all.
Will get better
He showed his brilliance against a workmanlike Newcastle and will only get better once he is fully back in the swing of things in the English Premier League and will be finding the back of the net regularly with his right foot, left foot and his head.
How Steve Bruce would love a player of his caliber – or half of that – at his disposal. You sense it will be yet another long and hard season for the Magpies who looked devoid of ideas, not that many would have noticed as the day was all about the return of Cristiano.
So, he is back and this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting English Premier League seasons since… well, since he was last here in 2009. Best of all, my Fantasy Premier League team will explode into life!