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bold claim 'Cristiano Ronaldo has become bigger than Manchester United' - John Aldridge

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Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Photo: Reuters

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Photo: Reuters

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Photo: Reuters

He has been a sensation since sealing his return to Manchester United and now former Liverpool and Ireland striker John Aldridge has suggested the Portuguese maestro has become even bigger than the great club he is playing for.

Ronaldo snatched a 95th minute winner for United against Villarreal to keep their Champions League hopes on track on Wednesday night, with the scenes of celebration around Old Trafford reviving memories of the club's golden days under Alex Ferguson.

Yet Sunday World columnist Aldridge has claimed United's reliance on Ronaldo is evidence of the club's slide in fortunes, as he says the 36-year-old Portuguese great is putting his club's diluted status into focus.

"First of all, you have to say Cristiano Ronaldo is a fantastic footballer and clearly one of the best two players in the world for more than a decade," declared Aldridge.

"Personally, I have always picked Lionel Messi over Ronaldo when people ask who is the best, but you could easily argue for both of them in that debate.

"What we have seen from Ronaldo since he came back to United has highlighted that he is now bigger than mighty Manchester United.

"They have needed to go back to one of their old favourites at the back end of his career to try and get back into the mix for the big trophies and Ronaldo is carrying them.

"As a brand off the field and the recognition he has around the world, I'd say Ronaldo is bigger than United and I never thought I'd see a day when a player would be bigger than a club like that."

Aldridge went on to suggest Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is "on borrowed time" as the club's manager, as he suggested he would fail in his mission to bring the Premier League title back to Old Trafford.

"The problem for Solskjaer is he has no more excuses," added Aldridge. "He was given Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho in the transfer window and he needs to challenge for the big trophies and win them now.

"From what I have seen of United so far this season, that isn't going to happen and it doesn't surprise me because I never believed Solskjaer is the man for a job as big as that.

"Go back to the day when Ronaldo went back to Old Trafford and scored two goals to beat Newcastle last month and their fans were telling anyone who would listen that they were going to win the title.

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"Since then, they have lost to Young Boys in the Champions League, went out of the League Cup against West Ham and lost at home at Aston Villa last weekend.

"The Ronaldo circus could only take them so far and it wouldn't surprise me if Solskjaer was replaced at United long before this season comes to an end."

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