Michael Owen will fill my shirt at Manchester United, says Ronaldo


Michael Owen will fill my shirt at Manchester United, says Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has backed Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to hand Michael Owen the No 7 shirt, insisting the surprise free transfer is worthy of wearing Manchester United’s most famous jersey.

Having inherited the number from David Beckham, Ronaldo knows a thing or two about pulling on one of the most revered shirts in football.

Speaking from Real’s training camp close to Dublin, Ronaldo said: ‘Michael Owen is an experienced player who has played for some of the biggest clubs. He doesn’t have to feel extra pressure just because he has the No 7.

‘I think Manchester United did well giving him the shirt. He is a great player and an English player and he has everything you need to win. It was a good decision to give him the No 7.’

Ronaldo must now live up to the expectation that comes with Real’s No 9 shirt – worn in the past by his Brazilian namesake – not to mention a world record £80million price tag. But if the FIFA World Player of the Year is feeling the pressure of living up to the hype, he certainly did not show it as he was quizzed about how his integration into the Real squad is progressing.

The quality of players is not related to the price paid for them,’ he said. ‘I made good friends in Manchester and it wasn’t easy to leave, but life is a challenge. I am a challenge man, it is a good move for me.

‘Madrid have bought expensive players and we have to win the league. Madrid were full of good players, but the new players have to show they have been brought in for a reason.’

The last galactico era floundered and Ronaldo expressed his dislike of the word which has become synonymous with Real’s policy of buying football’s biggest names for huge transfer fees.

‘I don’t like the word galactico,’ he said. ‘I am not better than anybody else. I am another player who is here to help win titles.’

United will arrive in Malaysia on Friday without two of their three new signings as Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan were not part of the squad who flew out.

It is understood that Ecuador star Valencia has had trouble obtaining the necessary visas while Frenchman Obertan has a groin problem.

United defender Nemanja Vidic has also not travelled due to an unspecified injury and there is speculation that the Serbia centre half’s absence is transfer-related.

But his agent Paolo Fabbri insisted: ‘No, no, no, no, no, no. Not at all. Absolutely not at all. There is absolutely no transfer for Vidic. We do not expect any transfer for the time being. No, he will stay.’

Ji-sung Park was also absent but Owen is expected to make his debut against a Malaysian select XI on Saturday evening. After Malaysia, United travel to Indonesia, South Korea and China.

Meanwhile, Bryan Robson has turned down an offer to coach Iranian Premier League club Persepolis Tehran to continue his job as an ambassador for United. Robson, who flew out on United’s tour, has also had offers from Turkey and Switzerland.

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