Man United in 2021: Ronaldo's return, Ole out and Rangnick revolution
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At the current moment in time, Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo is in the spotlight. It’s been claimed that Harry Maguire, the club’s captain, has been ‘subdued’ since the Hollywood homecoming of the Portugal international. With a leadership battle going on inside the Old Trafford dressing room, it’s worth revisiting what Sir Alex Ferguson said about the 36-year-old being skipper during his time in charge.
When Ronaldo was first at United, he walked into a dressing room full of influential characters.
There was Roy Keane, his maiden skipper at Old Trafford, who was still going strong despite entering the twilight years of his career.
There was also Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, two people who would one day go on to replace Keane in the role.
And United also had the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes at their disposal, too.
As Ronaldo’s time at Old Trafford went on, he became more and more of an influential figure inside the club’s dressing room.
And he was given the armband for a 2-0 win over Bolton in 2008, where he scored both goals to secure all three points.
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These days, Maguire is the captain at United with much being made about his leadership skills and whether he’s good enough for it.
As Ferguson turns 80 today, however, it’s worth noting what the Scot himself thought about the role.
Ferguson was never one to mince his words and insisted the captaincy wasn’t a major issue when grilled on the matter. Certainly, with the matter being talked about so much at present, his comments make for curious reading.
“We don’t make a meal of the captaincy or a big issue of it,” he said.
“But Cristiano looks for that kind of responsibility and is very comfortable with it.
“He practices his free kicks. He has a technique but the practise thing is the most important in terms of getting shots on target.
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“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 is clearly a leader.
But Ferguson never thought the captaincy was a big deal and it’ll be interesting to see if Ralf Rangnick discusses the matter.
There’s no indication United will strip Maguire of the honour, despite his mixed performances so far this season.
Yet there’s a big clamouring from United fans online that Ronaldo, as their talisman, should don the armband on a regular basis.
Ferguson was asked who his best captain was earlier this year.
And he named Bryan Robson as his favourite skipper, insisting the former England star was the whole package.
“He was easily the best captain I had. I think over the period he was at United, he was the best player,” he said.
“The players loved him. They responded to him and he was the longest-serving captain in my time anyway.
“It’s difficult for a captain because sometimes he has to tell the truth to players, you know?
“The encouragement he’s got to give them sometimes can be quite volatile and he was like that, but the players did love him.
“They appreciated the time he took on them and another thing, he’s the only captain I knew who could make a decision on the pitch.
“He didn’t need to look over to me. He would do that and that’s unusual. In fact, it’s very unusual because he had the balls to do that.”
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