Dubai Diaries: What Cristiano Ronaldo's Manchester United comeback teaches us


David Light

Published: Sun 12 Sep 2021, 1:55 AM

The furore surrounding the return, 12 years in the making, of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo to the Manchester team responsible for launching a bona fide super star onto the world stage has aroused much fervent discussion. While his commercial impact on the club will undoubtedly be a boon, despite the warm Old Trafford welcome yesterday, it’s too soon to predict how his contribution to the on-field antics will bear out. Although, as a person with a vested interest, I’m willing to bet he isn’t going to hamper the pursuit of a first Premier League trophy in almost a decade. He was last year’s Serie A top scorer for crying out loud and he managed to put away two goals against Newcastle on his debut! I don’t care if CR7 is noticeably older than his contemporaries — that he played alongside practically all of the Reds’ coaching staff he is now obligated to call ‘boss’ — numbers don’t lie. Despite mine and many fans’ favourable opinion, detractors have been vociferous. “He’s not the same player he was.” “He’s not the defensive midfielder United need.” “The other lads will shrink in his presence.”

As it turns out even the most remarkable of comebacks can be fraught with naysayers. It appears any homecoming, no matter who happens to be the subject, piques the amateur psychologist in us all. For several it could be a reappearance is somehow a step in reverse. With the value placed on exploring new horizons, walking back to whence you came maybe evokes a sense of failure. By definition you cannot be moving forward and that scares some. Again, I want to stress the ‘amateur’ in this cod analysis, but simply on an everyday level how many times have you heard “oh, you’re not eating there again are you?” Even one’s repeat restaurant choices can be placed under scrutiny. I feel the sentiment is friendly and expressed in order to jolt you into branching out, doing something unfamiliar. Yet occasionally the recognisable is just what the doctor ordered. The comfort of knowing what’s in store can offer warm solace against the chilly breeze of indifference an alternative landscape can occasionally serve up.

I’m not saying never take a chance, a risk, a leap of faith, yet in the same vein don’t be afraid to circle around once in a while. The pressure to reimagine or remould in life is often intense and a check in with the past to release the build-up, maybe even to provide a comfortable level on which to build a foundation and go off in a different direction cannot be a bad thing. If the world’s most recognisable sports personality is okay with it, why can’t you be?

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