Can Cristiano Ronaldo Help Restore United's Swagger?

illya mclellanSenior Analyst ISeptember 17, 2008

In recent weeks we have seen the Champions of Europe go from game to game without fronting up with a really convincing performance. They currently sit 14th on the table and this weekend face their toughest opponents yet, a Chelsea side that have been running rampant in recent games.

While United have looked solid as always they seem to have lacked ideas up front and have found themselves running about the field with the ball wondering what to do with it.

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to the lineup could not have come any sooner for them. Even if large portions of United fans were continually bagging him for his desire to go and play on the continent, it seems they are happy to have him back.

It is actually amusing to see this as earlier this year I remember reading several articles and comments on various forums about how Ronaldo was essentially not important to the team and another quality player could come in and fill his place with United barely missing a beat.

Oh how wrong these people were.

They have been outplayed on several occasions and beaten somewhat easily by Zenit St. Petersburg in the European Super Cup.

The weekend gone's effort against Liverpool was further proof of how much they are missing a player who can really turn a game on its head with a piece of skill.

This also shows how the midfield is not winning and holding possession for long enough periods of the game. It seems the side which won the major double last season is lacking a bit of confidence. They are looking at being absolutely murdered against Chelsea unless they can sort this out.

Both of these teams had struggled, but it was Liverpool who settled into their work and ground out the result, something United have done only once in a fortuitous win away to Portsmouth. Even in that match they were very lucky with Baba Diop almost embarrassing them from the kick off.

The question for the big talking fans now is whether the return of Ronaldo will galvanise the team into some stirring performances.

There will be no better time for him to show he is back to his best than in the weekend's game at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea, however, will not be undone easily as they are arguably the form team in Europe at the moment.

Seeing United against Villareal you could almost sense a bit of trepidation in the players' movement as they made their way out of the tunnel, sensing perhaps that it was high time they delivered something worth talking about.

In truth they easily looked the better side, but could not provide the killer blow that would have turned it into a night to remember for the Old Trafford faithful.

Interestingly enough, the introduction of C. Ronaldo in the 65th minute brought the house down. The Portuguese winger went on to try and single-handedly fashion three points from a game his colleagues were guilty of letting slip from the home team's grasp.

It could have realistically been sewn up well before Ronaldo's introduction, but no one had the goods. He, however, was straight away back to some of the best form of last season and the only thing lacking was a goal.

He did set up young Jonny Evan's for a chance that would have sealed the three points, but the defender could only hit the post with an athletic diving header.

With the player they apparently didn't need finally back in the squad, maybe now Manchester United can regain the swagger they are known for.

Whatever happens this weekend, it will be good to see the player back. It has been a little strange seeing United play such idea-lacking football in the past few weeks.

But C. Ronaldo aside, United as a team are going to have to really sort out their game if they are to leave Stamford Bridge with anything.