Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United – Wishful Thinking or Needed Signing?

Premature rumours that Cristiano Ronaldo is on his way back to Old Trafford is more of a wishful thinking. As an old adage says return of a player to his old stomping ground might cost him the iconic status earned in his previous spell. Is it really a dreadful mistake for a player to return to his former club? Some of the players who have returned to their previous clubs and had a matching or an even better stint are Mark Hughes – Manchester United – 1980-1986, 1988-1995 and Jermain Defoe – Tottenham – 2004-2008, 2009-2014. Based on such empirical data, if he returns can CR7 really have the iconic impact he had previously?

CR7 Manchester United and Real Madrid
CR7 Manchester United and Real Madrid

There are a few players who have returned to their old clubs just for a short period of time past their prime. Theirry Henry who played for Arsenal from 1999 to 2007 returned for a 2 month spell. Robbie Fowler who played for Liverpool from 1993 to 2001 returned for a year in 2006-07. We are not going to discuss these players as their return was only for a short duration. Let’s have a look at the players whose second home coming was for a significant period of time.

Players who have returned back to their club
Player Club Period First spell goals/game Second spell goals/game
Mark Hughes Manchester United 1980-86 & 1988-95 0.42 0.32
Ian Rush Liverpool 1980-87 & 1988-96 0.62
Duncan Ferguson Everton 1994-98 & 2000-06 0.39 0.20
Jermain Defoe Tottenham 2004-08 & 2009-14 0.31 0.35

These 4 players have made significant contribution to their clubs in the 2nd spell even though the stats are not as glossy as their first spell’s.

  • Mark Hughes was in sparkling form for Manchester United in his last season of the 1st spell 1985-86 by scoring 11 goals in the opening 15 games. However, United agreed a transfer fee with Barcelona for the end of the season much to the dismay of the fans. When Sir Alex Ferguson started his tenure, United were struggling in front of goal with too many draws. Mark Hughes was signed back by United in 1988-89 season and during his comeback, he was considered as one of the pivotal arm in Ferguson’s first championship winning team. His ability to retain possession in opposition’s half was 2nd to none.
  • Ian Rush with 4 1st division titles was a Liverpool icon before leaving for Juventus. He signed for Juventus from Liverpool in 1986 but played there for only one year as he hardly settled there. Ian Rush in his second spell at Liverpool won a Football League 1st division medal, 2 FA cups and a League cup.
  • Duncan Ferguson was Everton’s top scorer in 1996-97 season and in 1998 he was sold to Newcastle United. 2 years later he returned to Everton and he was instrumental in Everton securing Champions League spot in 2004.
  • Jermain Defoe was recruited by his former West Ham boss Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth in January 2008 for £6million from Tottenham, but once Redknapp was installed as Spurs boss he returned to White Hart Lane a year later. One of his significant achievement was to draw level with Martin Chivers as Tottenham’s top goal scorer in European football and he is firmly ensconced in the top 10 all-time Spurs scorers. Arguably his best season came in his second spell (2009-10), which included a five-goal haul in a 9-1 win against Wigan.

Hence 2nd home coming for a player is not always a disaster.

Similarity with Mark Hughes Situation:

Cristiano Ronaldo’s situation is best comparable to Mark Hughes situation. Ronaldo’s move out of United was not liked by the club fans similar to Hughes. Louis Van Gaal is looking to build a premiership winning team same like Sir Alex was striving during his early days. As was Hughes a perfect fit for Sir Alex’s first title, Ronaldo will be the perfect solution for Louis Van Gaal’s. Ronaldo will be the difference between United finishing in top 4 and United winning the title.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a player who strives for self-excellence and perhaps one of the most hardworking athlete in the world. Manchester United was the club where he was able to propel his way towards becoming the best player in the world. The manager and the fans provided the right atmosphere where he could thrive. It was a relationship made in heaven between Ronaldo and the Red Devil fans and he still considers Manchester United as his second home.

Though the initial conclusion of many people about United’s current season would be the lack of quality central defenders and a quality central midfielder, the area where United really struggling is ruthlessly demolishing opponents in the mid and lower end of the table. United were the best team to dominate mid and lower table teams and get maximum points when Ronaldo was playing. This is the main reason why United should afford to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford.

What Ronaldo could contribute to United?

Cristiano Ronaldo’s form in front of goal started to excel from 2006-07 season in Manchester United and he never looked back. Since 2006-07 Ronaldo has produced an average of 30 league goals per person and 9 assists per season. To put it in perspective, Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has an average of 16 league goals per season from 2006-07 which is almost half of Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo Goals and Assists
Cristiano Ronaldo Goals and Assists

Ronaldo’s Real Madrid figures (at the end of September 2014) are unbeatable: 265 goals for Madrid in 255 games, 185 from his right foot, 49 from the left and 31 off his head, 25 hat-tricks, 44 goals from outside the penalty area, 8 from direct free-kicks, 47 penalties and 65 assists. If Manchester United sign Cristiano Ronaldo, 30 goals per season is guaranteed, an attribute which will be very vital in their quest to challenge for title again.


The only negative aspect that football pundits thought of Ronaldo is that he might not perform to his full potential when he is not the center of attention. It was expected that he would lose his form once Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid but instead both of them flourished in front of goal. It was speculated widely that Cristiano Ronaldo will be a cast away figure this season as the new set of Galaticos will rule the club, but instead he still is their main man.

The same can be said about his nature of fit in the current Manchester United squad. Even though United has players like Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria, Robin Van Persie and Falcao, Cristiano Ronaldo will be performing at the highest level and be the focal point if at all he decides to have a 2nd home coming.

Ronaldo can stay in Real Madrid and retire there. He has no incentive to return to Old Trafford as he had already won all possible accolades and medals as a United player. But perhaps Manchester United cannot afford to miss the chance of signing Ronaldo if they want to challenge for the title once again.

Related articles:

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo Would Love To Rejoin Manchester United – Ballague (
  2. Cristiano Ronaldo could return to Old Trafford… IF Manchester United are willing to fork out £140 million (
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United looking extremely unlikely (
  4. Ronaldo’s return is “impossible” (

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