Manchester United legend Paul Ince has sent a message of caution over the club’s move to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo this summer.
The Red Devils have brought Ronaldo back to Old Trafford after 12 years away, and Ince believes the Portugal international still has it in him to have a positive impact at the club, despite his age.
Still, Ince did also caution that United fans can’t expect Ronaldo to be the same player he was in his first spell in Manchester, and his arrival might not be quite enough to lift this side to being genuine title contenders.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Ince made it clear that he felt Ronaldo’s presence should be a positive overall, as he spoke about his experience and winning mentality.
It’s easy to imagine what a boost that could give the rest of this Man Utd squad, but Ince’s words also indicate just how realistic expectations should be once the 36-year-old settles in.
When asked to compare Ronaldo to Eric Cantona, Ince said: “Cantona was probably the final piece of the jigsaw that was missing for us, although we should have won the title the season before.
“When Cantona came in, we already had a great team. United haven’t got a great team right now.
“They’ve got a very good team, which they’re trying to make great, but Ronaldo can be the driving force for that.
“His arrival will lift the fans and lift the players. You’re talking about a serial winner, one of the greatest players to ever grace a football pitch.
“Every player, when Ronaldo walks through the door, will be lifted. That will heighten the intensity on the training ground and when they walk out at Old Trafford.
“He’ll have that effect. He can show the players what it’s like to be a European winner, a Champions League winner.
“He knows how to conduct himself on and off the pitch, how to train, what to eat. That can only benefit United and their pursuit of winning the title.
“But he’s not going to be the Ronaldo of 12 years ago, running up and down the wing. He’s a centre-forward now and it’s important United have the players to get the ball to him.”
He added: “Ronaldo will help close the gap on their rivals. Whether he closes it enough to the extent they can win the title, only time will tell.
“What United have got is game-changers. If they’re not playing well, they’ve got players who can do things in certain moments, like Mason Greenwood did at Wolves.
“But that’s not enough. You have to have the consistency the likes of City, Chelsea and Liverpool have and keep producing, week-in, week-out.
“Ronaldo knows that and he’ll be demanding that from his team-mates, he’ll be demanding that of himself, right from the start, because that’s what it’s about.
“His attitude will be ‘I’m here, I want to win, I want to leave this club with a legacy, knowing I can return at 36 and bring the title back’. That’s what will be in his mind.”