BRYAN ROBSON: I’ve not felt a buzz like this since Eric Cantona arrived… Cristiano Ronaldo’s return with two goals against Newcastle has given Old Trafford a new-found belief
- Cristiano Ronaldo’s return has had a monumental impact at Manchester United
- I turned up at the stadium early and it was already packed – as it was afterwards
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has gathered a strong group with quality in every position
I’m out for a birthday dinner with Steve Bruce on Sunday and I know he’ll be saying: ‘Why did we have to be playing Manchester United when Cristiano Ronaldo came back?!’
I’ve not sensed a buzz around Old Trafford like this since Eric Cantona arrived.
I turned up at the stadium at 11.45am on Saturday and it was already packed outside. Even afterwards, when fans have normally gone home, they were milling around still savouring the atmosphere. Programmes that are normally left unsold or left behind on tables in the lounges were all being snapped up just because they mark the day Cristiano returned.
The Manchester United fans are delighted about the return of Cristiano Ronaldo
I’ve not sensed a buzz around Old Trafford like this since Eric Cantona arrived
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stewards protecting a player when he was doing pitchside interviews afterwards. Lots of fans had stayed behind hoping to get a glimpse of him or an autograph. It’s like a throwback to the glory days, he has given the place new-found belief.
What Cristiano showed on Saturday is exactly what he can change for this team.
Manchester United didn’t give a particularly startling performance but this guy will make a difference. He senses opportunities, he is clinical, he is a level above.
He has the charisma to captivate the crowd and lift them. The level of encouragement being received on Saturday was that normally afforded for opposition such as Liverpool, Manchester City or Chelsea.
Ronaldo has the charisma to captivate the fans and lift them even when the team is struggling
You could see that many of the players back from international duty were off the pace. It was a game maybe last year United would have drawn but Cristiano Ronaldo is always pushing to win. He forced mistakes, anticipated danger and gave United their edge. He and Bruno Fernandes were great at urging their teammates to pick up the pace and that will rub off on the others.
I know he addressed the players on Friday night and that would have been when he underlined what he was back at the club for and that is to win. He’s not here for a fairytale that ends in failure.
Some players can talk it in a dressing room, how they are winners, but you can see through the talk. Not with this guy. You know it really hurts him to lose and he’ll have no qualms telling you. That is something others will thrive off.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has gathered a strong group with quality in every position
I like the positivity that comes from Mason Greenwood but with Jadon Sancho I believe he is playing ‘safe’ almost within himself. I’d like him to be braver and I’m sure Cristiano will encourage the same.
Ole has gathered a really strong group now with quality in every position and with that comes the demand for success.
Pressure is always there as manager of Manchester United, Ole knows he will have to win trophies and at the very least get closer to the Premier League title than last year.
There are big personalities in that dressing room now and that’s what you want to win titles. Key is how Ole man-manages this squad.
I spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday and he was excellent at that. He wasn’t bothered about upsetting players at times because it was always schemed to bring the best out of them.
I’m really keen to see how Ole steps up with this squad now. How he freshens them up in the cups, how he develops the formations and strategies to beat teams, when to make his substitutions and who to bring on to make the best attacking impact because with the armoury United now possess, they will face a lot of sides who will be defensive in their approach.
They will need to grind out results like they did at Wolves. Sides who can do that, collect a series of 1-0 wins, will win league titles.
Chelsea are stronger, City are and so are Liverpool but there is no reason for United not to believe they can win it too. That’s what Cristiano is here for.