Ole Gunnar Solskjær said Cristiano Ronaldo had reintroduced himself to his Manchester United teammates at a meeting on Friday night – and then watched him do likewise to the Old Trafford crowd as he inspired a 4-1 victory over Newcastle.
Ronaldo’s first debut for the club was as an 18-year-old in 2003 and he would make 292 appearances for the club in his first spell, scoring 118 goals. The second coming started with two more which were rapturously received by a giddy home support.
“He said his name was Cristiano, that’s as much as I can say,” Solskjær said. “Of course everyone when they come into team has to introduce themselves. Maybe not everyone knew his name but they do now.
“The atmosphere around the club has been electric. The supporters have really enjoyed the last 10 days or so since he signed. There were loads of expectations on the team and him and he’s delivered.
“He does what he does. He lifts everyone and gets everyone around the place so focused. He puts demands on himself which then will put demands on his teammates and on us. That’s why he has done so much in his career and been so disciplined.”
Solskjær played Ronaldo up front in a 4-2-3-1 formation, although the Portuguese did have the licence to drift wide.
“He’s a different type of player to when he left but he’s still a ruthless and clinical goalscorer,” Solskjær said. “He smells the big moments and when there are goals in there. He’s developed into a miles better footballer than he was when he was [first] here.
“Sometimes he can drift off to the sides and get turned and finish from there. You’re not going to use him as a battering ram, are you? He senses the big moments, when to run into the box and when to run in behind. He played very simply and didn’t give many balls away. I think he gave one away.”
Solskjær said he was pleased to see Ronaldo complete the 90 minutes, which he had done once previously this season – in Portugal’s 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland on 1 September, when he scored both goals.
“I didn’t want to take him off unless he wanted to come off,” Solsjkaer said. “He needs minutes, he wanted to play. He lost a few games for Juventus and Portugal and we needed to get 90 minutes into him.”
The victory extended United’s encouraging start to the season, giving them 10 points from an available 12.
“We had to be patient,” Solskjær said. “It’s never easy after the international break to get your tempo. We didn’t lose our heads and especially so when they scored in the second half. We upped the tempo and we know we’ve got quality.”
Steve Bruce, the Newcastle manager, heard the travelling fans chant against him. “What can I say to the supporters? They have an opinion but I can’t comment on it,” he said. “We trained all week, we were in every day. Our preparation was meticulous.”
On Ronaldo, Bruce said: “If there is a genuine superstar among everyone, then this kid is with what he has achieved. We have witnessed it again today. He is something else.”