Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knew Cristiano Ronaldo would be returning to Old Trafford by the time he sat down for what can be a tumultuous media Zoom call at 13:15 BST on Friday afternoon.
Despite widespread speculation that Ronaldo was on his way to Manchester City, United officials were fairly confident on Thursday night that the momentum surrounding the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s return to the Premier League was shifting away from Etihad Stadium and four miles across Manchester to Old Trafford. The final push came the next morning, when Sir Alex Ferguson, the former United manager, got involved.
Ferguson and Ronaldo have a strong friendship. Long after his departure for Real Madrid in 2009, Ronaldo continued to refer to the Scot as ‘The Boss.’ Ferguson pleaded for Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford, knowing that he would be hero-worshipped. The alternative would be to ruin a reputation that has only grown since Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, as United has failed to reclaim prior glory.
United step out of the shadows
Ronaldo, along with Gareth Bale, was seen as one of United’s top objectives for easing them into the post-Ferguson era in 2013.
Rumors of a return to Old Trafford have ebbed and flowed over the years, usually around contract negotiations, but it has never appeared likely that the player who spent six years at United between 2003 and 2009, scoring 118 goals in 292 appearances and winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League, would return.
Throughout the summer, United kept a close eye on Ronaldo’s tumultuous situation at Juventus. Juve has been struggling financially and is still at odds with Uefa over the aborted Super League idea, which United and the other five English clubs abandoned fast.
Source: BBC Sport