Pundits take surprise opposing stances over Cristiano Ronaldo impact at Man Utd

Date published: Monday 30th August 2021 6:52 - Steve Pearson

Portugal forwards Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate scoring a goal 2021

Graeme Souness and Roy Keane were at the opposite ends of the spectrum when weighing in on the impact Cristiano Ronaldo will have at Man Utd.

Man Utd sent their fanbase into meltdown on Friday when announcing Ronaldo would return to the club where he made his name. The Portuguese icon is expected to assume a central striker role and the club and its fans will be hopeful his arrival can thrust them into genuine title contention.

One person who believes that sentiment will come true is Graeme Souness.

The Liverpool legend has often been a vocal critic of Man Utd in his role as a pundit for Sky Sports. However, unlike Roy Keane, Souness believes Ronaldo will have a transformative effect on Man Utd and will make them title contenders.

“I see him making the difference for them,” Souness said. “I think there’s two, three or four players in Man United’s dressing room that need him.

“Only him or (Lionel) Messi coming into the dressing room would make them up their game.

“Some players in that dressing room feel they’ve arrived, they’re the real deal and no-one can tell them anything. But they will improve with Ronaldo there.

Cristiano Ronaldo during Juventus vs Udinese, August 2021

“You’ve got no chance unless you sign senior pros and Man United have just signed the ultimate. Training will be different and players’ attitude will be different.

“I see United challenging for the championship with him in the team because they had 11 draws last season. They won’t have them now because he’s on another planet.”


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Keane points to two areas of concern

Keane, who was Man Utd captain when the club first signed Ronaldo in 2003, hailed Ronaldo’s return as “great news”. However, he does not believe the shock transfer will help Man Utd beat Chelsea or Man City to the Premier League title.

“I think it’s great news for United, the fans and the Premier League,” said Keane.

“There’s no doubt in my mind he’s still a world-class player – the hunger and the desire is still there.

“He’s a clever guy and he’s only coming back to Man United to win stuff. He’ll bring a winning mentality to the dressing room.

“But Man United still have the same problems with or without Ronaldo, and that’s midfield and goalkeeping problems.

“Man United having Ronaldo makes them a better team. But him coming back doesn’t mean they are suddenly going to close the gap on Man City and Chelsea and win the league title.”

READ MORE: Man Utd transfer verging on collapse after cruel last minute hammer blow

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