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Cristiano Ronaldo 2003-2009 292 Games 118 Goals

November 21, 2009

Written by: Adam Carpenter

If there was anything Cristiano Ronaldo was and left United as, it would be as an entertainer and a world talent. Enjoying 6 wonderful years at Old Trafford with 3 of those seasons having a vital role in United winning the major trophies and honours, he really showed everyone why he is the best player in the world. Also scooping accolades and honours up as if they were being handed to him like sweets proved how good he really was. Astonishingly enough when he signed from Sporting Lisbon in August 2003 for £12.24 million, he was the first ever Portuguese player to play for United. The reason why Sir Alex Ferguson decided to invest a hefty amount of money in him, was witnessing his performance in a pre season friendly for Sporting against United. He left the United defenders dazzled and dizzy as Sporting went on to win 3-0.

Big things were expected of him and he didn’t disappoint on his debut for the club as it came for United against Bolton Wanderers on the first day of the 2003-2004 premier league campaign. It was however a substitute appearance when he came on with 30 minutes left to play, but nevertheless he ran rings around the Bolton defenders and showed his potential to go onto greater things. His first goal for his new club came just over two months later against Portsmouth when he smashed the ball across the box and into the top corner. Beckhamesque the goal had been branded, and this was the first of many goals and free kicks for him in a red shirt. Season by season he was improving and improving, the thing with Ronaldo was everyone could see the runs and trickery in his game, but some people questioned whether he had the end product to make him one of the world’s greatest players. It took him three full years to really find his feet in England and advance as a player, by this time people thought he would not find the end product, but my did he find that in abundance in his fourth season, the 2006-2007 campaign. He netted 23 goals in all competition and many of these goals were title winning goals for his team and helped United through to the semi finals of the champions’ league. One of his most famous goals was the last minute solo strike against Fulham at Craven Cottage to give United a 2-1 win and this was seen by many, including Sir Alex as the title winning goal for United. Not only of its importance was it such a brilliant goal, but he picked the ball up in his own half, ran past many Fulham players at blistering speed, and unleashed a belter past the goalkeeper in the bottom corner. He also scored a fabulous free kick again against Portsmouth earlier in the season, which became a trademark type of goal in his United career. At the end of this season he picked up an unbelievable amount of awards at only 22 years old, this was now the beginning chapter of a real talent. He was only the third ever player to win consecutive Barclay’s player of the month awards, he won the PFA player of the year and PFA young player of the year. The PFA fans player of the year, and he was also named in the PFA team premier league team of the year. There was only one thing eluding him, the golden boot.

Despite Ronaldo putting in an incredible and boy to man season in 2006-2007, 2007-2008 was to be probably one of the best ever season’s played by a Manchester United player, and it took it to a whole new level. In all competitions he scored a remarkable and breathtaking amount of goals almost doubling last season’s total haul to 42 goals. Only Denis Law was to ever score more goals for United in one season and he was a striker. Ronaldo spent most of his time as a right or left winger this season and occasionally played up front. Incredibly this season started in the worst possible way for Ronaldo, where in the second game of the season, he received a straight red card for head butting Portsmouth’s Richard Hughes, which resulted in him being suspended for three matches. Ronaldo learned a lot from this and it was one of a rare amount of red cards in his United days. Weirdly his first hat trick for the red devils had to wait until January 2008 where he bagged three in a 6-0 demolition of Newcastle.  Many goals flew in the net in fashion this season and I would be here all day if I was to go through them all, but I have to especially mention one of the best free kick’s I have ever witnessed, against Portsmouth in January 2008. Around 30 yards out from goal, he stepped up to cut across the ball with vicious venom and power to rocket it right into the top corner of the net. David James in goal for Pompey was one of the world’s best keepers at the time, and was totally rooted to the spot and was nowhere near touching it. The season ended in dramatic fashion for Ronaldo and more specifically for his team. The champions’ league final in Moscow May 2008 against Chelsea was the biggest game many of the players had ever played in, if not the biggest. Yet again Cristiano was the centre of attention, where just before the half hour mark in the game, he rose above his supposed man marker Michael Essien to hammer home a bullet header in the bottom corner giving Petr Cech no chance. It proved to be the 42nd goal of the season as the most important one for Ronaldo and his team. Chelsea equalised to make it 1-1 and it went onto extra time where nothing changed the score line, but both teams came very close to winning it on several occasions. In the shootout Ronaldo missed his penalty and it looked to be a devastating blow for his club as they looked destined to lose the shootout and slump out as runners up in the biggest game of their lives. John Terry stepped up for Chelsea for the winning penalty kick and he slipped whilst taking the penalty which caused it to hit the outside of the post and bounce away. The shootout continued and Ronaldo was reprieved when Van Der Sar saved Nicolas Anelka’s penalty to give United the beloved trophy. Ronaldo fell to the floor in tears as his penalty miss meant nothing to the team then and the rest of the team went bonkers as expected. This was one of the best days of Ronaldo life and a dream of his to lift the Champions league. He finished as the winner of the golden boot and the European golden shoe. What followed on from this in the summer was pure transfer speculation. Was he or was he not going to join Real Madrid or was he going to sign a new contact with Manchester United. He did neither in the summer and in the end stayed with United for another season.

The following season, 2008-2009 was another great season for him with Manchester United and yet again cemented his status as the best player in the world. It was however not a smidgen on what he did the following season, but still a remarkable hall of 26 goals. In this season he did not finish as the league’s top scorer as he was 1 shy of Anelka’s total for Chelsea of 19 premier league goals. He was being compared to Messi as to who was the best player in the world, Messi had the better season, but for me Ronaldo is streaks above Messi. Ronaldo’s side still won the title with him still playing a key role but not as influential as the season before. Some spectacular goals flown in the net near the closure of the season, and my favourite Ronaldo goal was scored when in the quarter final of the champions’ league against FC Porto in the Dragao Stadium where United had to win to stay in the competition and they duly did. Ronaldo scored one of the most breathtaking goals I have ever witnessed where he had next to no run up to gather momentum, from a full 40 yards out, he thunder bolted a cracker past Arruda Helton in the Porto goal into the top corner, absolutely marvellous and that was the sign of him bouncing back from recent troubles. Then weeks later in the same competition against Arsenal in the semi final, where from gain 40 yards out he freakishly smashed a free kick past Manuel Almunia to put his side to Rome putting them 3-0 up on aggregate only 10 minutes into the second leg, he scored later in the game too to make it 4-0 on aggregate. After United lost the 2009 champions league final against Barcelona there was again speculation whether he would join Madrid or not. He first expressed he was happy at United and there was no reason for him to leave, but then he said he wanted to follow his dream and join Madrid. He did so and his 6 year amazing career with Manchester Untied came to an end. United did not sell him on the cheap mid, he was sold to Madrid for a world record £80 million. He now plays for Madrid to date.

Cristiano’s international career has so far been a very good one. In 68 games he has scored 22 goals. He is also dramatically known for his part in the world cup quarter final after helping his teammate by getting his club team mate playing for England, Wayne Rooney get sent off and then winked at his bench. The pair made up at United the following season, but he was hated by many opposing fans. He has also got a big known reputation for so called ‘’diving’’ and this is another reason why he is hated by many opposing fans. Cristiano couldn’t care less and continued to play as a world beater.

It will be a question that can never be factually and statistically answered as to whether he will go down as a Manchester United legend, on stats, of course he does, but people will say he needed to stay for a couple more years, I believe he isn’t a legend at our club, but a very talented player that I will never forget as he played a wonderful part at our football club.

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