Cristiano Ronaldo took his time to become a world-beater at Manchester United.
While he might have blown away Sir Alex Ferguson with his pre-season performance for Sporting Lisbon, adapting to the English game was a slow and steady process for the youngster.
You only need to look at how Ronaldo adapted from his skinner frame and constant skill moves to muscling up and raking in the goals to see how he altered his game over the years.
The 2006-07 season was the first year that Ronaldo really brought his A-game to Old Trafford, confidently emerging from the World Cup and giving a precursor to his first Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo’s development at Man Utd
However, there were glimpses of the all-conquering player that Ronaldo would become even before then and a ray of hope that his third season at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ would be a lucky one.
So, yes, we are talking about the 2005-06 campaign, which might be controversial when you consider HITC Sport recently named it the worst season of Ronaldo’s entire career.
But even if you prescribe to that theory, there can be no denying that his performance against Bolton Wanderers on New Year’s Eve, 2005, was anything short of top drawer.
Ronaldo’s stunning highlights
And it’s a game we can’t help revisiting after YouTuber ‘SLIZHENKOV l HD’, who has over 500,000 subscribers, uploaded Ronaldo’s individual highlights earlier this month.
It serves to demonstrate just how good Ronaldo was at the same age of contemporary youngsters who are being heralded today, such as Erling Braut Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.
So, before you tuck into the video down below, bear in mind that Ronaldo was only 20 years old at the time, which makes him younger than Mbappe and marginally older than Haaland.
Oh baby. It’s like the perfect mix of showboating Ronaldo and efficient Ronaldo.
There’s still that playfulness that could be seen during Ronaldo’s United debut against the same opponents, but there’s an added directness that made him an even bigger threat.
After hitting the post either side of a half-time with a right-footed volley and left-footed strike from range, he bagged himself a brace during the 4-1 demolition job.
The first one was a simple, poacher-like finish at the back stick, but the second one was truly special with a ruthless finish at Jussi Jaaskelainen’s near post after some mesmerising step-overs.
Combine that with a minimum of three minutes’ worth of skill and you have yourself quite the compilation.
So, even if Haaland and Mbappe’s stats tell a different story, we’re not sure either player, for all their brilliance, has been ability show ability on quite the same level as Ronaldo himself.
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