Manchester United expert Dan Coombs doesn’t think Cristiano Ronaldo’s return will distract the Red Devils when they face Newcastle.
All the build-up to today’s game has been about Ronaldo. The media have gone Ronaldo crazy. We’ve been guilty of it ourselves.
But is there a chance that the return of the Portuguese superstar could actually help Newcastle?
Steve Bruce has spoke about wanting to spoil the party, as if we’re minnows turning up at Old Trafford for an FA Cup Third Round tie.
There will be huge pressure on Ronaldo to perform. If he doesn’t start, all cameras will be pointing at him on the bench, awaiting his inevitable arrival.
It could be a perfect storm for Newcastle to rock up and ruin the Ronaldo return.
However, United In Focus writer Dan Coombs doesn’t think that will be the case.
“It’s possible,” he said, when asked if Ronaldo’s second debut could be a distraction to Man United.
“But I’d think it is more likely to be a net positive than a distraction. I think it could just as easily be an unhelpful distraction for Newcastle.
“It is worth bearing in mind though that last season our home form was very poor, we won just nine out of 19 home games.
“The 5-1 win over Leeds showed we can move past that, and the benefits the crowd will bring, but we could just as easily slip back into bad habits, Ronaldo or not.”
Manchester United won’t underestimate Newcastle on Ronaldo return
While most neutrals are expecting a Ronaldo goal glut against a limp Newcastle side, Coombs insists that Man United aren’t underestimating the Magpies.
“I do think this is a good fixture for us. Newcastle’s results so far suggest this is a team we should be beating.
“It is less about Newcastle though, and more confidence in our own attacking options right now.
“This is the strongest group of attacking players we have had for years. Ronaldo obviously has good memories against Newcastle, winning 10 of 11 games and drawing the other, and scoring his first hat-trick against them.
“Without trying to be disrespectful, anything less than three points will be seen as a disappointment.”
Manchester United’s forward line was already impressive before the return of Ronaldo. With the signings they’ve made this summer, they should be challenging for the title. And to do that they should be beating times like Newcastle.
But while they have a plethora of options in attack, we are scrambling for goals after the injury to Callum Wilson.
Joelinton may come into the team, although he is far from a natural goalscorer.
With or without Wilson, Newcastle are bang out of form. We are massive underdogs heading to Old Trafford. Ronaldo must be salivating at the prospect of facing Bruce’s side.