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Why Glazers NEED Ronaldo to prove Man Utd will survive without Fergie

More than David Moyes, the Glazers need Manchester United to make a huge splash in the transfer market this summer.

Plenty has been said about the motivation behind the pursuit of Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, with many claiming the bid is to placate fans expecting a bigger name to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson.

But beyond any perception about the faithful's acceptance of Moyes, there is a real, genuine need for United to prove they still have the pull to attract the game's biggest stars - even without the influence of Ferguson.

The question now is, can United stand on it's own?

Up until the end of last season, when United came calling for a top name, it was done in partnership with Ferguson. In the latter years of his reign, the lines became more and more blurred. Did Robin van Persie move to United due to the club's size or for the opportunity to work with Fergie? When the greatest of all time is on the other end of the phone, it surely is an influence.

This is where the Glazers now face a watershed.

Chelsea, as Andre Schurrle gushed upon signing from Bayer Leverkusen, has the pull of Jose Mourinho. On the continent, Pep Guardiola is now a factor for Bayern Munich and even Carlo Ancelotti, with Real Madrid, is a name the game's best players want to be associated with.

The Glazers and new chief executive Ed Woodward now must prove United is big enough to handle the loss of the Ferguson factor when tackling the top end of the transfer market.

Ronaldo's return is the obvious solution and after the groundwork laid by Ferguson and Woodward's predecessor David Gill, negotiations should be smooth - if the Glazers are willing to pull the trigger.

Before Gill, as one of his last serious acts as CEO, made his end of season trip to Madrid to meet with Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo's agent, Ferguson had pulled at his former star's heartstrings by breaking tradition and having his name read out last by stadium announcer Alan Keegan before that infamous Champions League defeat.

Ferguson, like everyone at Old Trafford, was acutely aware of Ronaldo's problems with Real fans and the cheer he received from the United crowd is something he still talks about today with friends. It's those same friends who report back from trips to Old Trafford informing Ronaldo how his name is still sung passionately by the Stretford End.

For all the talk about finances, this is what matters to Ronaldo.

Haggling over image rights and pay-rises with Real president Florentino Perez have masked the one great disappointment Ronaldo has felt in the past two years: He is still playing on the same terms he signed for in 2009.

For all his personal improvement, the money he has generated for Real, which Perez has proudly boasted during his reign, and the silverware he's helped the club win, the board has not lift a finger to recognise Ronaldo's efforts and upgrade his deal.

In the same time, he's seen his nemesis, Lionel Messi, handed three significant new agreements by Barcelona.

Gill's discussions with Mendes will have highlighted the contrast between how Ronaldo was treated while a United player compared to the lack of recognition received at Real. Even having been long gone from the club, Ronaldo's closest allies will argue he is afforded more respect by United than his current club .

He knows he wouldn't have been allowed to attend the Ballon d'Or alone if he was still a United player, as what occurred last season, experiencing the nasty snub of Pep Guardiola in the process.

Even this week, Fergie's former No2 Mike Phelan stoked the flames by refusing to comment on talk of a contract having already been tabled for Mendes and Ronaldo to consider. Sure, the ex-United coach was happy to discuss the delicate situation around Wayne Rooney, but Ronaldo? His reluctance spoke volumes.

United, more so than Moyes, needs Ronaldo. In this new dawn for the club, the Portuguese's arrival will keep United competitive on the field and send a clear message that even without the Old Man, they remain the biggest show in town.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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