Manchester United confirm Cristiano Ronaldo return
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Manchester United are likely to unleash Cristiano Ronaldo against Newcastle on September 11. The Portugal international is back at Old Trafford, 12 years after departing for Real Madrid. And, recently, talk of him potentially taking the captaincy has arisen.
Gary Neville was recently asked about Ronaldo potentially replacing Harry Maguire as skipper.
Maguire has worn the armband since moving from Leicester two years ago, but is yet to lead the club to silverware.
But, despite that, Neville shot down talk of Ronaldo potentially wearing the armband – as he did once before, in a 2-0 victory over Bolton in 2008.
“I’d be very surprised if Harry Maguire gets the captaincy taken off him,” the former United right-back said on Sky Sports.
“I think Harry Maguire is going to be there for the long term, Cristiano is coming in for two years.
“So I don’t think that’s going to happen, I’d be very surprised if that was the case.
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“I think Cristiano Ronaldo’s desire and leadership skills don’t have to be brought forward by having the armband.
“I mean it’s obviously something I think he likes, that personal accolade, I think he likes the idea of being the leader of the dressing room.
“But I think he also recognises the team I think, and taking the captaincy off of someone, I don’t feel would be the right move.”
And Neville previously revealed that United icon Sir Alex Ferguson worried about giving Ronaldo the armband during their time at Old Trafford together, because the Scot feared Wayne Rooney ‘kicking off’.
“I remember going to see Sir Alex one pre-season, I think during my third season as captain, and saying I didn’t feel worthy of keeping the captaincy because the team had shifted onto a level I couldn’t compete at,” Neville told Sky Sports last year.
“It was obvious then, we had an amazing team – Ronaldo, Rooney, [Carlos] Tevez, [Ryan] Giggs, [Paul] Scholes, [Michael] Carrick, [Rio] Ferdinand, [Nemanja] Vidic, [Patrice] Evra, [Edwin] Van der Sar, great players and great personalities.
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“Sir Alex said, ‘you’ll keep that armband, son’.
“He said me and Giggs would rotate the captaincy because if he gave it to Ronaldo, Rooney would kick off, if he gave it to Vidic, Ferdinand wouldn’t be happy, so we kept it for three or four years purely for the camaraderie in the dressing room.
“We were the policeman, the old statesmen in the dressing room that would see the example and Sir Alex wanted to make sure the team came first, despite me feeling unworthy of the captaincy at that stage.”
In the end, United made Ronaldo captain for just one match.
And he certainly didn’t disappoint, scoring twice as they beat Bolton 2-0 in 2008.
After that game, Ferguson explained his decision to give Ronaldo the captaincy for the evening by saying: “We don’t make a meal of the captaincy or a big issue of it.
“But Cristiano looks for that kind of responsibility and is very comfortable with it.
“He practises his free kicks. He has a technique but the practise thing is the most important in terms of getting shots on target.
“With free kicks if you get the shot on target that’s one thing, the bonus is can you score? And it was a bonus tonight.
“The important thing was we had the opportunity and the incentive to get three points clear of Arsenal our nearest pursuer and we have done that.
“It wasn’t a great performance but we made a lot of changes and that was necessary because with Rio Ferdinand (back strain) doubtful for Sunday I had to find out about young Gerard Pique.
“We have great confidence in the lad and he has come through it very well and that was important.”
Ronaldo himself, meanwhile, has assured fans the club can count on him.
“Well, we had a chat, but of course I’m going to have time to speak with him face to face, to know what he expects,” he said of talks with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“As you know, I played with him for two or three years at Manchester United so I have a good relationship with him but now with a different role, I’m a player and he’s a coach.
“But it doesn’t matter, my relationship with him is great and as I say before, I’m there in Manchester to help the team achieve his results and the coach can count on me for whatever he wants.
“So I’m available for everything.”
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