Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting to Man Utd and back

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The route to Manchester United for Ronaldo’s first spell at Old Trafford was not written in stone as he had offers from other clubs and one keen admirer was Arsene Wenger who were close to get his signature, but instead of joining Arsenal he chose Man Utd after convincing Sir Alex with an impressive display in a game against them, winning 3-1.

Romanian manager at the time, Laszlo Boloni, was the man who gave Cristiano Ronaldo the debut in the senior first team after being impressed by the dribbling capacity of the teenager. Boloni was a previous player at Steaua Bucuresti and a winner of the European Cup, and to complete the presentation, a Romania international with 102 caps in total.

While Ronaldo has been around in European football Boloni has also done his moves and had his last management experience with Panathinaikos, been in charge of the Greek giants from 2020 to 2021.

Ronaldo, a teenager at the time made the most out of his friendly v. Man Utd and the rest is history. He signed for Sir Alex and when his time was up, he moved on, to join Real Madrid.

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Sir Alex and Laszlo Boloni was the two managers to be part of those first years, and not much change as the two influenced a career that continued at Real Madrid. The fact that Real Madrid only managed to win La Liga Primera just two times during the days of Ronaldo, did see a lot of great names of management taking charge.

The man in charge when Cristiano Ronaldo arrived was Manuel Pellegrini, but it was no doubt that Florentino Perez was the man in charge of the move valued to £80million and really a bargain buy looking at it all in the back mirror.

Manuel Pellegrini left the club after that first season and the new man in was Jose Mourinho. Mourinho stayed for three years with Carlo Ancelotti taking over. Rafael Benitez was next and after him Zinedine Zidane had his time in charge. He had left by the time Ronaldo made his move to Juventus, with a certain Spanish head coach being announced as their next manager just before the start of the World Cup, which did see Julen Lopetegui sacked from his post just in front of that vital tournament.

During his days at Juventus Massimiliano Allegri was the one in charge at this arrival, later it was Sarri and Pirlo who had their days in charge before Cristiano Ronaldo made his move back to Man Utd and is now for the first time in his career being managed by a former team mate in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Despite being seen as a grand footballer and by many described as the best with a regime of pureness and disiplin that seldom is seen in this game. At the age of 36 he still performs at a level few in his age have done before him and it shows that attitude and hunger can keep you going all the way to the 40’s and further if you still want to play on.

Stanley Matthews and Peter Shilton are two former players who did the same and at the age of 36 still was performing at top level going long into their 40’s performing well, so it’s done before and can of course be copied and we believe Cristiano Ronaldo will be offered a job if he decides to play on into his late 40’s.

Football is a strange game and certainly for Cristiano Ronaldo the return to Man Utd have seen a start few would believe with three goals scored in his first two games, hopefully OGS will be lucky and keep his momentum both at home and out in Europe.

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The evil stats on Maguire, Man Utd in heavy decline, Solskjaer losing grip

Harry Maguire was signed to be the leader in the Manchester United defense and he has not yet convinced the fans of the club that he is worth £80million. What a fee to pay for a player that has experienced three relegations with Hull City and Wigan Athletic, been playing under seven managers in the passed four seasons and not really yet made his mark 100% at international level.

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We all know that England came close to a World Cup final with Maguire in their mid, but they failed in that Semi-final v. Croatia, and didn’t either bring home the bronze being defeated by Belgium. Not able to win against Holland in the Nations league semi’s and of course bringing home a bronze medal in a penalty shoot out against Switzerland, but in all England should win against the Swizz any day of the week.

At Leicester City both Claude Puel and Craig Shakespeare had to leave their jobs, depending on Maguire as a leader in defense, not really being able to win those key battles and run the back four with confidence and the leadership needed to be a top class defender, talking Champions League final material. That is what you pay £80million for, not a mediocre Premier League defender.

Maguire has “eaten” five managers in four seasons counting Steve Bruce, Mike Phelan, and Marco Silv at Hull, Craig Shakespeare and Claude Puel at Leicester City, and those stats don’t lie, and the £80million defender has never been part of a team higher than 9th in the Premier League, and struggled with relegation at Hull City and Wigan Athletic, also relegation fear at Leicester City.

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One other act to look at is that Maguire also have been in teams that are often seen losing form and going on long and poor runs during a season. And his habit of ending in relegation battles might be a scary act to look at, often being the player in those teams to be holding the leadership in defense.

Not at all a bad defender, but in real a player that has not yet managed to jump those hurdles that a top class defender needs to jump, with the demand and expectations shining through at Old Trafford.

When building a winning team at the level you like to compete and win, you need a fine mix between players previously being winning those trophies you like to get your hands on, if you don’t have that experience you have to find it, and again a few talents from your own ranks and a steady group of players that are able to play two games a week without getting injuries.

Easier said than done, but not all managers in football have the abilities of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp and to see OGS in competition with them is a bit unfair as he is not equipped to be in that league of managers. Sadly Manchester United fans are totally lost in their talk of football, as they alse were 50 years ago seeing the same scenario appearing when Sir Matt Busby left his job and as Sir Alex moved upstairs.

This is a copy tale of what happened back then and the story looks to repeat itself. Wilf McGuiness and Frank O’Farrell both failed, not winning domestic trophies, impatience and decline was not dealt with in the right way, Tommy Docherty, at that time a proven manager, took the party down to the 2nd tier.

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When Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down six years ago, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Robin Van Persie and Patrice Evra were all on the wrong scale of 30 and with Marouane Fellaini being the only summer signing, totally unexpected, and not a player that in any way could replace Scholes, who was a player that never got replaced.

Manchester United were always a 4-4-2 team under Sir Alex, and the partnership up front was a very vital part of that formation. It’s a pattern that we seldom see in today’s game with teams adapting to other styles and in the last six season no one has won the Premier League playing 4-4-2 anymore.

Leicester City, Manchester City and Chelsea are the winners since 2012-13, and they are performing totally different and the same to be said about Liverpool, but it’s really not the system in itself that counts, the players are.

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Jose Mourinho demanded money to be able to build, but with fans turning against his buys Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, and also against him, after taking the team to an FA Cup final and ending runners-up in the league, winning away against Juventus you start to think, are they all insane and totally left out of reality.

We have seen major clubs like Manchester City, Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers being relegated to League One level, something we thought was impossible, and when you see what type of players Manchester United are linked with at the moment you get scared seeing Mandzukic and Maddison being lined up, both are so far behind Lukaku, Sanchez and Pogba in ability, so you start to get scared. Maddison has not yet made his England debut, needs at least 40 caps before being on a level close to Pogba, so we just have to wait and see.

OGS is flirting with different systems and to mix that with changes in a line-up is like going to war with yourself. He is acting as a novice at the moment. if you have players dominant as he had at Molde you can do this, but with a team full of reserves and youngsters it’s a failing project.

Stay thru to your system, slot in players when you get injuries, don’t move your best players around. If you do as OGS has done now, you start thinking is this really Manchester United and how can anyone be allowed to destroy a team in this way. We just have to wait and see what happens, but this is not going forward in the best way possible, despite Man Utd still being in all competitions going forward.

The forgotten Kidd on the block, vital in both camps, Manchester United and Manchester City

Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guaridola, Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini all are seen as great managers, but to be great you need some assistance, and few have been better in that role than Brian Kidd.

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Eric Harrison got most of the credit for the class of 92, and full credit to him. Sir Alex has been given the praise for how he nursed forward the likes of Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, but few have talked about Brian Kidd’s importance, back in those early PL winning days at Manchester United.

To neglect the fact that Brian Kidd was alongside Sir Alex Ferguson as his assistant manager at Manchester United from 1991 to 1997 is like telling a lie, and before that being in charge of youth development at Old Trafford, going as far back 1988.

Brian Kidd was, to the dislike of Sir Alex, tempted to become Mr. 1 at Blackburn Rovers, and jumped at the chance to be the main man at Ewood Park. A club at the time seen as a title chaser, but in decline, needed to get back to their winning ways with Kidd seen as the ideal man, but he didn’t last long getting the sack a year later.

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Kidd then had spells as an assistant and coach at several places, being seen assisting people like David O’Leary at Leeds United, Sven Göran Eriksson for England and Harry Redknapp with Portsmouth, he also had a brief spell at Bramall Lane with Sheffield United before moving to Manchester City in 2009.

He started to work with the youth players at Manchester City as he had done at Manchester United almost 20 years earlier, moving up the ladder and seen as part of the management team when the first Premier League trophy was won with Roberto Mancini in charge.

Brian Kidd has been the real “continuity” at Etihad while managers have travelled, he has been the one “bridging” it all together. Kidd was on the block during the years of Manuel Pellegrini  and brought on with Pep Guardiola, said to given more importance in the build up to that first title winning season under Pep, after the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss had struggled in his first season in charge.

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So far Brian Kidd’s role at Manchester City has seen him lifting four Premier League titles, and of course several EFL Cup wins and FA Cup trophies being part of his collection. His three years at Leeds United faulted with a semi-final in the Champions League, so he has been close of that trophy earlier as well.

The fact that he had left Manchester United when they lifted the Champions League trophies and missing out on that title while at Leeds United, makes it probably a big goal to still be part of the plans at Man City when they this season will make a serious attempt to bring that Champions League trophy to Etihad and fulfill an amazing collection of trophies, though having an European Cup winners medal from his playing days at Manchester United can of course be of comfort.

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Brian Kidd had a respectable career as a player, scoring goals on demand for Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton in the top flight of English football. He also had a spell in the NASL with Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Atlanta Chiefs, being seen as one of that leagues best players during his days “over the pond”.

He scored a goal in that “iconic” 1968 European Cup final v. Benfica, actually happening on his 19th birthday, seen as a real “Busby Babe” born i Manchester and being there alongside Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law, actually being Law’s replacement in the final as the great Scot missed out.

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Brian Kidd made the full circle when he returned to Manchester United and building that great bridge between the era of Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson being vital for both men in his player and assistant manager role.

Going more than 50 years back in time and in all those years being involved in the game getting his ideas through to some of the greatest managers in the modern game is quite unique. The amazing paths of Brian Kidd is not be faulted and might or should be given more credit as some of the greatest managers in English football made their success with Kidd as their assistant, so all in all you can say that it was all up to that Englishman to give the advice that won them all those titles.

The most fascinating in this story is the fact that he has been coaching and playing for Manchester United, Manchester City and England, and that he in a sense has made the English coaching story a bit brighter as most experts describes those foreign managers as influential, but as they have come and gone, Brian Kidd has been around, at least that is the case at Manchester City.

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