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Cristiano Ronaldo hero worship does not mask Manchester United’s flaws

Returning star gave fans their money’s worth in 4-1 win over Newcastle but club would have been wiser investing in midfield

They had come to celebrate Cristiano Ronaldo and they got what they had come for: not one, but two opportunities to shout “Si!” as he celebrated goals with that characteristic spread of the arms and thrust of the groin, a sort of macho version of Lionel Blair indicating he’s miming the title of a song. Everything else, for the moment, could take a back seat: the king has returned.

The announcement of Ronaldo’s name when the teams were read out at around 2.25pm was greeted by a great roar. When he jogged out to warm up, cleverly maximising his exposure by positioning himself behind Donny van de Beek, a player of translucent appearance and reputation, there was another visceral cheer. He responded with practised casualness, acknowledging the two long sides of the ground with applause and a raised thumb. Before kick-off, Ronaldo was last out of the tunnel, so the roar had grown and grown before he emerged behind Paul Pogba.

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