x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

United fans still missing Ronaldo’s genius

Primera Liga may be maligned as rating second to Premier League, but star players and playing achievements of their two leading clubs still represent benchmark, writes Andy Mitten.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a successful stint at Manchester United before moving to Real Madrid. Andres Kudacki / AP Photo
Cristiano Ronaldo had a successful stint at Manchester United before moving to Real Madrid. Andres Kudacki / AP Photo

Spain’s Primera Liga may be maligned as rating second to England’s Premier League, but the star players and playing achievements of their two leading clubs still represent a benchmark.

Ed Woodward took charge of Manchester United in July, and in the new chief’s first interview, with the United We Stand fanzine, he concedes more elite players are in Spain than in England. “I don’t like the fact that in the list of 25 players in the Ballon d’Or, we’ll have Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

“I don’t like the fact that there are consistently more players from Spain on that list. We as a club should be aspiring to have the best players playing for us. We’ve had that in the past.”

Woodward is helping oversee a rise in United’s revenues which soon will see them pass Barcelona.

Asked if United in the future would lose a player like Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, Woodward said: “We won’t lose on price. I don’t like the fact that we miss him as a player; he was phenomenal. I’ll always remember him at Arsenal in the Champions League semi-final in 2009. I saw some Arsenal fans applaud him off the pitch. That guy was a genius, an absolute top, top player.”

And asked if the club’s former star will return to Old Trafford, he replied: “Who knows? We’re in for players if the manager wants to be.”

United fans would love to see him return and play for their club again after his successful previous spell there.

sports@thenational.ae