Although unbeaten domestically and currently leading the Premier League table, Mancini now faces arguably the biggest test of his managerial career with City as Real Madrid travel to Manchester tomorrow evening. In a game where City desperately need three points to keep any hope of their Champions League dream alive, there is one player on everyone's mind as he makes his first playing return to Manchester.
With 162 goals in 165 league games for Real Madrid – the ex Manchester United star will travel down to the Etihad with the star studded line up of Madrid, hoping to do his old side a favour and knock out the Citizens from Europe’s elite competition.
Arguably the greatest player of the Premier League era, Ronaldo returns to Manchester tomorrow twice the player who scored 42 goals in United's own Champions League winning campaign of 2008. Madrid had to make him the most expensive footballer in the world when they eventually signed the Portuguese captain – and now Sir Alex describes him as “unbuyable”.
He won his 100th international cap at just the age of 27 and during the summer, and produced some of his best form in a major tournament. He would carry that form in to the season, scoring two goals in the El Clasico for the Super Copa. He equalled the record of the great Ivan Zamorano of scoring in five consecutive El Clasico matches.
With 19 goals in all competitions this season – Ronaldo is maintaining his phenomenal form as he, along with Madrid are desperate for a 10th successive Champions League trophy.
However, having come out of the start of the season claiming he was 'sad' – doubts were cast over whether the Madrid star would remain at the Santiago Bernabeu. In fact, it was Manchester City who were favourites for his signature. But with such an adoring affection towards Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United, I don’t believe City was ever an option for him. Madrid were never going to let their prized asset walk away, and were willing to bend over backwards to make him happy, whatever Madrid did, it's worked.
Ronaldo has played against English opponents three times since leaving the Premier League, and has scored in every game. Twice against Tottenham Hotspur and once this season against Manchester City, as Madrid came form behind twice to win the tie 3-2. Ronaldo will surely be given a grief time in Manchester by the City faithful tomorrow night – but any abuse aimed will no doubt be conjoined with absolute fear every time he touches the ball.
Recently, Ronaldo has been linked back with a move to Manchester. Cristiano spent 6 years at Manchester United and has no doubt written his name into the folklore of the club. Numerous times he has labelled Sir Alex the 'greatest manager in the world' and that he sees Sir Alex as a 'father figure'.
As I previously mentioned, Sir Alex dubbed Ronaldo as 'unbuyable', but joked that he has asked for Ronaldo as a 'Christmas wish' for his side. Since his departure to Madrid, Man United lost the title the following season by 1 point, they then regained their title the following year, only to lose it on goal difference to Manchester City.
There is no doubt that Ronaldo still loves Manchester United, and he will be as keen as ever to score against the Citizens tonight – in what could be a sincere touch to remind Sir Alex what the he did for his career and how Manchester United are the team to beat in England, no matter how much Abu Dhabi oil money can benefit a side.
Undoubtedly, all Premier League neutrals and Manchester United fans would love to see Ronaldo make a return to England's top flight. Having won the Ballon d'Or during his time in England, as well as his own personal trophy cabinet flourishing in the red of Manchester opposed to the white of Madrid – he experienced the most success in England.
Although a return to the Premier League looks unlikely for the time being, fans and neutrals alike can gaze in awe of Cristiano when he takes on Man City tomorrow night and ponder as too how successful the oil-driven Manchester City project would have been had Ronaldo remained in Manchester all this time.
Should Cristiano Ronaldo return to Manchester United?
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