‘There is no place to hide’: Man United boss Solskjaer challenges stars, confirms Ronaldo will make second debut against Newcastle

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Man United has prompted a feel-good factor within the club – but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will demand nothing but success from his new teammates.

If, as expected, Ronaldo makes an appearance at Old Trafford against Newcastle United on Saturday, it will mark exactly 6,601 days since his first debut for the Red Devils against Bolton on August 16, 2003 – and in those several thousand days, quite a lot has changed.

Back then, Ronaldo was a gangly teenager thought of primarily as a tricky winger and very far from the goalscoring phenomenon who would go on to dominate world football in the ensuing years.

Ronaldo's personal list of accolades is almost too lengthy to list. He won Champions Leagues at both United and then Real Madrid as well as numerous other domestic honors.

There was also the personal feud with Lionel Messi which saw the world's two most talented footballers of their generation repeatedly duel over awards, their cursory smiles and terse handshakes betraying a wider rivalry. 

And with Ronaldo joining Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho as Solskjaer's new recruits in the red half of Manchester, the Norwegian boss says that his team's expectations must match those of the famously trophy-hungry Portuguese.

"He will get on the pitch at some point, that's for sure," Solskajer said of his new man ahead of the Magpies' visit in the Premier League.

"There is no place to hide with winners like that. You can't give 95 percent in training and not be focused. That is what he demands of himself and everyone else."

The last time this particular cast of characters was assembled, Ronaldo baged a hat-trick for United against Newcastle in January 2008 – some four months before he departed to Madrid for a then-record fee of around $111 million.

It was perhaps two seasons before this when Ronaldo first developed into the world class goalscorer he is today. In his final season at Old Trafford, he scored 26 goals in all appearances, compared to 42 and 23 in the seasons beforehand.

But it was at Real Madrid where Ronaldo perfected his craft to the tune of 450 goals in just 438 games – and Solskjaer says it is that Ronaldo who will return for his homecoming.

"Everyone evolves and develops throughout their career," Solskjaer said. "You won't see 18, 19, 20 stepovers before he goes past you. But what he has developed in his years at Real Madrid impressed us all.

"He is one of the best in the air and his timing and desire to get on the end of crosses is second to none. He still hits the target 99 times out of 100 when he shoots from outside the box. He knows the game more and which positions to run into and is still as quick from the statistics.

"Everyone is going to look up to him. He is going to be a leader in this dressing room."

For his sake, Solskjaer will no doubt be hoping that Ronaldo lives up to his own billing in his second run at trophies in Manchester.

With enhanced expectations comes additional pressure – and as he seemed to imply while he gushed over his new signing, Solskjaer knows that this United squad has very little room for error. 

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Cristiano Ronaldo is back at Manchester United. © www.manutd.com
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