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Graham Potter relishing facing Cristiano Ronaldo and says quality is still there

Potter has never previously faced the prolific 37-year-old Portugal forward.

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Cristiano Ronaldo is enduring a frustrating spell with Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Cristiano Ronaldo is enduring a frustrating spell with Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Cristiano Ronaldo is enduring a frustrating spell with Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Brighton boss Graham Potter has no doubts about the enduring quality of Cristiano Ronaldo and is relishing the challenge of a first meeting with “one of the best players of all time”.

Potter will reach 100 games in Premier League management on Tuesday evening when in-form Albion take on Manchester United at Old Trafford.

United star Ronaldo has come in for criticism in recent weeks, having failed to score in six successive games in all competitions – his longest barren run in 12 years.

Potter has never previously faced the prolific 37-year-old Portugal forward and feels the football world sometimes focuses too much on individuals.

“You run out of superlatives in terms of what he’s achieved in his career and the player that he is,” Potter said of Ronaldo.

“He’s had an absolutely amazing career, world-class, it’s out-of-this-world class. There’s nothing else to say with that.

“Too often we zoom into individuals and forget it’s a team game. Sometimes when the team isn’t scoring, the person at the front of the pitch gets the zooming in, we’ve had it ourselves with Neal (Maupay), for example.

“From what I’ve seen, you still see the quality he has and the quality he brings to the group and the team.

“I’ve never played against him, we’re looking forward to going there and pitting our wits against one of the best players of all time.”

Albion have gone seven league games without defeat and are flying high in ninth place following Saturday’s 2-0 success at Watford.

United, meanwhile, have dropped nine points from six top-flight games and exited the FA Cup since Ronaldo last hit the net.

Although the 20-time English champions have struggled to convince under interim manager Ralf Rangnick, Potter is braced for a tough assignment as the Seagulls seek a maiden win at Old Trafford.

“Regardless of what the narrative around Manchester United is, you only have to look at the players that they have,” said Potter

“And going to Old Trafford in itself is a huge challenge because the crowd are so powerful there; the way they play, in a moment the game can completely change because they’ve got world-class players.

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“We have to maintain that humility and maintain that respect for our opponent and then try our best to play the football that we want to play and see how the game goes.

“The game is another test for us to see how our game has developed in as tough an away environment as you can get.”

Former Ostersunds and Swansea boss Potter began his Brighton tenure with a 3-0 win at Watford in August 2019 after replacing the sacked Chris Hughton.

He has dealt with the death of both of his parents and the coronavirus pandemic during his time at the Amex Stadium to reach a century of Premier League games in the dugout.

“It’s a proud landmark – it’s not easy to get,” he said.

“After the first game, I probably thought I could get 600 games because we won 3-0 and I thought, ‘this is easy’ – how wrong I was.

“The first year here was the toughest year of my life in terms of the challenges on and off the pitch.

“To come through that and still be here and still be progressing the team and part of this great football club is something I’m very happy about and grateful for.”

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