Ronaldo would have been the player to take Man City to the next level – Micah Richards

    Ronaldo would have been a different level, of course, but the idea of him a blue shirt opened up all manner of possibilities. I wouldn’t say him joining City would have meant the elusive Champions League was sewn up but, my God, what a chance we would have had.

    He was going to be the man to take City to the next level. I’ve heard it said Ronaldo isn’t the kind of player Pep Guardiola goes for, because of his superstar status and ego, but I don’t think there would have been an issue.

    Sometimes there are opportunities that you cannot turn down and the possibility of getting Ronaldo had to be pursued. He is special, a phenomenal force of nature; any manager in the world would want to work with someone who guarantees goals, goals and more goals.

    Imagine this for a minute: put another 20 to 25 into City’s team. He’s the 36-year-old who plays like he’s 28. This wasn’t a gamble – he guarantees taking your side to another level and gives you a huge chance of success.

    But then the move to City was off and Ronaldo was heading to Old Trafford. This, clearly, is a happy ending and if I remove myself from the cross-city rivalry, you cannot fail to see this is a feel-good transfer. The noise and emotion when he steps out against Newcastle will be off the scale.

    Let’s not get caught up in the emotion, however. I was raving about what Ronaldo could have done for City and he can do the same for United. I said on the opening weekend of the season that I felt they were a couple of players short of a title-winning squad but this deal calls for a reassessment.

    Look at their firepower: Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes; Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho, the star qualities of Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani. Maybe they could do with another defensive midfielder but I felt City needed another striker last season and they overcame that.

    Why can’t United do the same? When you look at their transfer window, signing Sancho and Raphael Varane alongside Ronaldo, it must go down as one of the best recruitment drives, certainly in terms of the names they have recruited.

    Don’t kid yourself, either, that Ronaldo has come back to Manchester to wind down time. He simply isn’t like that. I played against him a good few times during his first spell in the Premier League and the thought of what he could do to you still makes me shudder.

    Put yourself in my position for a minute. As a full back, I couldn’t show him down the touchline, as he had speed to burn and would run away from me. I couldn’t show him inside, as you were worried he would adjust his feet and slam a shot in from 30 yards.

    He was a bit of a skill merchant then, so if you wanted to have some success against him you had to make the first tackle count. If you allowed him to build his confidence early on, he had everything in his locker to ruin you.

    Then there was his physical strength. You know his condition is remarkable, you have all seen pictures of him. When you collided with Ronaldo, it felt like he was made out of stone. Rio Ferdinand used to tell me he was in the gym constantly, working on his core and his mobility.

    So put all that together – he’s stronger and faster than you. He’s got more skill, he’s smarter than you. The only possible way of containing him was by doubling up but then he would just leave space for someone else to exploit. If United got their momentum up, all you could do was pray.

    You could see it in his eyes back then that even though he had success, he wanted more and more and more. He has won everything there is to win many times over but he won’t rest until he has got more medals with United.

    Those adoring United fans are going to see a different Ronaldo than his first spell at Old Trafford. He has adapted his game, to become a goal-scorer supreme who spends much of his time in the box – but the impact I expect him to have means they are fully entitled to dream.

    This is now a genuine four-way title race with all the big teams having all their big boys. Whoever comes out on top in May will be the most deserving winners – and United are firmly in the mix. This is the transfer that has changed everything.

    The term ‘must win’ is something you often hear towards the end of the season but, in week four, it applies to Arsenal’s game against Norwich.

    They should have a number of their key players back for this fixture and the only possible outcome that will be acceptable for Mikel Arteta is three points. Arsenal have got to find a way to break the cycle of negativity that is spinning around them.

    I’ve seen Arteta at work and, believe me, he is an excellent coach. He’s got bright ideas, he knows football inside out and the work he did in his first eight months at the club prompted me to write a column early last season about how nobody was laughing at Arsenal anymore.



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