Cristiano Ronaldo's club season began with both goals in Real Madrid's Super Cup victory over Sevilla, a feat which saw him named Man of the Match by former boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ronaldo was quick to praise his retired mentor, who handed him the trophy in Cardiff. The Portuguese star also indicated new signings James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos are settling in nicely, having put in useful performances against Spanish opposition during UEFA's showpiece event.
Ferguson received loving praise from the man he brought to Old Trafford exactly 11 years ago on Tuesday, reported by Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail:
I am happy because I scored these two goals and I want to thank Sir Alex for handing me the man of the match trophy.
He helped me a lot when I was just 18 in Manchester and I want to say I respect him and thank him so much for everything he did in my career.
You can see the moment Ronaldo received his trophy below, via 101 Great Goals:
Ronaldo's delight continued when addressing what Rodriguez and Kroos have already brought to the side, while also thanking the rest of his teammates for creating the conditions in which he could excel with a match-winning brace, per Ashton:
These are two crucial players for us, they played well and helped the team win an important trophy. That’s why we are happy at Real Madrid to welcome them. They are doing well and playing well. My team helped me and I am happy to score twice.
Both of Ronaldo's goals can be viewed below:
Quality cross by Gareth Bale and Ronaldo with the finish. 1-0 http://t.co/6fu3CYxoRW— Football Vines (@FootballVines) August 12, 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo's second goal vs Sevilla. Brilliant http://t.co/iuyhepwlg8— Football Vines (@FootballVines) August 12, 2014
Real Madrid's most important player will be confident of capturing plenty of silverware heading into the new campaign. Last season's Champions League and Copa del Rey double was a fantastic achievement, especially when considering the holy ground of La Decima was finally reached. That said, third place in La Liga needs to be improved upon.
Ronaldo posted extraordinary numbers during the 2013-14 run. He scored 31 goals and provided nine assists in 30 La Liga appearances, while also breaking the Champions League record for most goals in a single season with 17 in 11 matches, per WhoScored.com.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo ever return to Manchester United?
Madrid's summer investments add further star quality to a squad that is bursting with world-class players. Neither Rodriguez nor Kroos were essential purchases—Angel Di Maria's failure to get off the bench in Wales proved that—but they galvanise Madrid's dominance. Of course, their exceptional quality ensures plenty of chances will be laid on for Ronaldo during the upcoming campaign.
The 29-year-old's old former colleagues at Manchester United may benefit from such investments, with Di Maria now likely to leave. Reports indicate the Red Devils are firm favourites to land the Argentinian's signature, with chief executive Ed Woodward ready to open talks for his transfer, per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail.
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC also believes Carlo Ancelotti's decision to bring on Marcelo, Isco and Asier Illarramendi against Sevilla means the end of the line for Di Maria:
Those last Madrid subs could be Ancelotti admitting his hope of keeping hold of Di Maria is over.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 12, 2014
Despite Madrid's constant state of luxurious flux, Ronaldo's presence remains indispensable. He has developed into a natural leader over the years, someone to be admired by his teammates, so it is important for the former Sporting Lisbon youngster to let the world know Madrid's new signings have settled in nicely.
Ronaldo's word, like his football, carries major weight over this Madrid setup. He is an example of how hard work can turn raw talent into match-defining quality, something Rodriguez will hope to learn during his spell in the Spanish capital.
While Ronaldo previously hinted he wouldn't rule out a return to United, per ESPN, followers of the English club will hope their former hero's performances can play a role in pushing Di Maria their way.
United have failed to replace Ronaldo in the six seasons since he left, but the Argentinian's quality would significantly improve upon wingers already at the Theatre of Dreams. Ferguson could one day play a key role in taking Ronaldo back to Manchester, as United fans long for the second coming of an individual who will always be classed as one of their own.