Gary Neville came wrong about Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United homecoming

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The thought of missing out on Champions League football for next season would have not even crossed Cristiano Ronaldo’s mind when he sealed his return to Manchester United last summer.

On one of the most dramatic days the transfer window has ever produced, Ronaldo, just hours after being set to join Manchester City, sealed a fairytale return to Old Trafford. It was a remarkable turn of events and no United fan is likely to ever forget August 27, 2021.

His return to Old Trafford increased expectations on the spot. United had already strengthened their squad with the additions of Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, meaning Ronaldo’s homecoming was the cherry on the icing on the cake.

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Understandably, the thought of Ronaldo joining a star-studded squad and linking up with fellow countryman Bruno Fernandes in attack was a mouth-watering prospect. Expectations soared and United’s supporters were dreaming of returning to the top step of English football’s podium.

However, it wasn’t just the expectations of the supporters that instantly increased. Former captain Gary Neville was optimistic that Ronaldo’s homecoming would move United closer towards winning their first title since 2013, even though he admitted that they would still miss out this time around.

But considering United, with just two games of the Premier League campaign remaining, are 25 points behind current table-toppers and cross-city rivals Manchester City, they find themselves even further away from ending their title drought. Ronaldo has scored a very impressive 24 goals in all competitions, but they are no closer to ending their wait for a 14th Premier League title.

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“Absolutely it brings them closer to winning the title, it will absolutely get them closer,” said Neville, speaking back in August following Ronaldo’s return to the club. “But do I think it will win them the title at this point? No I don’t.

“But now I’m more excited about Manchester United challenging for the title than I was maybe five or six days ago. I don’t think they will. I want them to.

“Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane will have the mentality to win United the title, there’s no doubt, but if I had to put my house on it now, do I think they’ll win the title this season? No.

“But I’m desperate for them to win the title. I’m just being pragmatic.

“I think there’s an element that you have to be in for these players if you’re Manchester United. Whether that wins you the title or not, I’m unsure. It gives them a far better chance than they had 48 hours ago. “

Although Ronaldo has been one of United’s leading lights in a season that everyone connected with the club will want to airbrush from history, he has not had the desired impact, even if he has more than 20 goals to show for his efforts. The club is even further behind Liverpool and City than they were this time 12 months ago and it, barring a miracle, promises to be quite some time before they’re back on an even keel.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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