Cristiano Ronaldo Returns: With Their Savior Back, It's Time for United to Shine

Jeff HarbertSenior Writer ISeptember 17, 2008

Cristiano Ronaldo has finally returned to action following foot surgery done over the summer. The recovery kept him out for three months.

The Portuguese winger was initially ruled out of action until October, but has worked hard in order to return ahead of schedule. Ronaldo made his first appearance of the season tonight after coming on as a substitute in United’s Champions League match against Villareal at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo may not have been able to help United get the goal they needed to earn all three points, but he showed everyone what Manchester United has been missing in recent weeks. The United starlet made an impact as soon as he was on the pitch and looked dangerous every time he had the ball.

His surging runs towards the box ignited flashbacks of last season when he scored an outstanding 42 goals in all competition. The No. 7 starlet flashed a header just wide of the goal in the last 10 minutes and was also involved in some of United’s best plays of the afternoon.

United looked certain to break the deadlock after Ronaldo sent Rooney clear on goal with a beautifully played through ball. The England striker’s first touch was good, but his cross for Tevez was a little too far ahead of the Argentine, whose shot was saved by Gonzalo Rodriguez to keep the scores level.

Much had been made of what kind of reception Ronaldo would receive at Old Trafford after the reigning PFA Player of the Year was heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid. Ronaldo did little to dispel the rumors and at one point even looked set to leave the European Champions.

But Ferguson convinced Ronaldo to stay and the player now accepts it was the right decision. There was still concern, however, for what kind of reception Ronaldo would receive upon his return, with some wondering if United fans would ever forgive him for his part in the transfer "soap opera" this summer.

Those people received their answer before Ronaldo was even on the pitch tonight. Old Trafford erupted in applause as Ronaldo began warming up prior to replacing Park Ji-Sung on 59 minutes.

Despite the draw in their opening match of the competition, Manchester United can take heart that their star man is finally back in action. His absence has certainly been felt in recent weeks, with United managing to record just one win this season. But something tells me that things are about to get better for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, starting with their trip to Chelsea this weekend.