Robbie Savage has launched a staunch defence of Manchester United’s decision to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo and insists his winner against Atalanta shows exactly why he’s been brought back to the club.
United roared back from 2-0 down to secure a vital 3-2 victory in the Champions League. The United players were visibly overjoyed when the final whistle blew. However, the mood was rather more sedate in the BT Sport studio with Paul Scholes, for one, less than overjoyed at their display.
The former United midfielder took umbrage at the way United conceded two sloppy goals. Furthermore, he stated a winner over Atalanta – is nothing to be celebrated.
However, United’s second-half fightback was to be admired. Marcus Rashford set the ball rolling before Harry Maguire equalised. And that provided the impetus for Ronaldo to seal the comeback with the winning goal.
The 36-year-old now has six goals from eight appearances since re-signing for United. Wednesday night’s strike also made it three in three in the Champions League.
Despite that, Jamie Carragher recently questioned United’s wisdom in bringing Ronaldo back to the club.
Indeed, the former Liverpool defender argued Ronaldo is “a better signing for the Premier League than United”.
“They remain a team of individuals rather than a team,” Carragher wrote in the Daily Telegraph. “Cristiano Ronaldo has added to that rather than fixed it.
“That’s why, despite a brilliant squad, they are not yet at the level of the other three.
“Dropping five points in their last two home games highlighted lingering inconsistency.”
He added: “Ronaldo could prove to be a better signing for the Premier League than for Manchester United.
“I am certain Ronaldo will challenge Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku for this season’s golden boot.
“As we saw last weekend against Newcastle United on his second United debut, Ronaldo’s mere presence is a certainty of goals, and his comeback has transformed the mood at his club and raised the profile of English football even more.
“But the broader question for United is whether Ronaldo’s arrival gets them any nearer to being a team that can win the title and Champions League again.
“On the evidence [of the first three games] you would say no. Ronaldo’s match-winning ability will inevitably make United stronger. What his arrival alone cannot do is turn United into a title-winning unit or impose the distinctive way of playing they still lack.”
However, Savage clearly had those comments in mind when he waxed lyrical about Ronaldo’s winner.
In the co-commentator’s chair with BT Sport, Savage was quick to laugh at Carragher’s claims.
“Some people saying it was a signing for the league not United,” Savage said of Ronaldo’s return to the Red Devils after his latest heroics. “Questioning that man does make me laugh.”
Meanwhile, United captain Maguire twice insisted his side must improve at dfeending set pieces.
“The first half we conceded two bad goals,” he told BT Sport. “Two big moments in the game.
“For the first they caught us out and then the second it is a set-play that we shouldn’t be conceding. We created a lot of chances in the first half so we knew at half-time that the next goal would be crucial.
“We got the goals we needed and deserved and I think we deserved the win in the end. Yes, we made it difficult but it is a tremendous victory in the end.”
Maguire again referenced the goals United conceded later in his interview, adding: “We were two goals down and we need to sharpen up with that. But we had plenty of chances. I think Marcus [Rashford] had two one-on-ones in the first-half.
“We are working hard to be more solid but it is about winning and the last three or four games we have conceded too many set-pieces. It is fine margins but we need to do better. We showed great togetherness. We were clapped off at half-time by some of these fans and they gave us the belief we needed.”