The story of Ronaldo's 42-goal 2007/08 season at Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United has got plenty of fans looking back to his first spell at the club.

Ronaldo became the best player in the world at Old Trafford first time around, winning the 2008 Ballon d’Or.

That came off the back of a stunning 2007/08 season, where United won the Premier League and the Champions League double.

We’ve had a look back at the story of that stunning season – Ronaldo’s best in a red shirt.

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The raw numbers

The raw figures tell their own story. Ronaldo scored 42 goals in 49 games in all competitions.

He won the Premier League Golden Boot with 31 goals and was crowned the PFA Player of the Year as well.

Ronaldo spearheaded United’s assault for glory on all fronts, as part of a frightening and flexibile front three along with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez.

The Portuguese superstar bagged ten goals in seven matches between Boxing Day and the end of January, the time of the season when the fixtures mount up and weaker title challengers can fall away.

There were memorable moments such as the stunning free-kick against Portsmouth and the opening goal in the Champions League final win over Chelsea.

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What they said

The season actually got off to a slow start for Ronaldo and United. United drew their first two matches of the season, and Ronaldo was sent off in the second of those, at Portsmouth.

After the game, Sir Alex Ferguson defended Ronaldo, calling on referees to protect him more.

Ferguson called Ronaldo ‘absolutely perfect’ after a two-goal performance in a 2-1 win over Everton in December 2007.

Bolton boss Gary Megson hailed Ronaldo as a ‘genius’ for a free-kick against them in March 2008, during a 2-0 win sealed by another brace.

Legendary figure Johan Cruyff declared a month later that Ronaldo was better than United legends George Best and Dennis Law, at the age of just 22.

The plaudits just kept rolling in and it was clear Ronaldo had gone up to the very highest level already.

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Never been repeated

No United player since 2008 has got close to Ronaldo’s level of individual brilliance.

Ferguson likened him to Best and Diego Maradona and those comments were no exaggeration.

Ronaldo was the absolute star of Ferguson’s last truly great United side and he was absolutely thrilling to watch.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.