The chants of “Viva Ronaldo” from Old Trafford were all but drowned out by the cheers from the 35-odd Manchester United fans gathered at TopCat CCU as Cristiano Ronaldo returned “home” on Saturday evening against Newcastle United. The energy was electric as the Red Army Kolkata, a Manchester United fan club, chanted ‘Viva Ronaldo’ and ‘Glory, Glory Man United’ at a special screening organised by them at the Bypass gastro pub.
“This has been the dream: seeing Ronaldo back in Manchester United colours! Today is a special day,” said 32-year-old Bodhisatva Rajderker, one of the oldest members of the fan club.
My Kolkata became a part of the Red Army to catch the action as it unfolded.
The scene at TopCat CCUVideo by Chandreyee Chatterjee; edited by Madhurai Banerjee
Cristiano Ronaldo strides onto the Old Trafford turf 12 years after his last match for the club and the Red Army Kolkata drowns out the commentary with chants of “Viva Ronaldo”. While those who had seen him as a young United player are eager to see him back in club colours, the young ones who had never seen him in action back then, are desperate to witness the magic of this Man United legend for the first time. “I can’t wait to see him score for Manchester United again, and this time live!” says Swajan Ghosh, a third-year engineering student of Netaji Subhash Engineering College.
Ronaldo’s first attempt four minutes in has fans out of their chairs and on their feet. The chants are just as loud as the clapping: the Ronaldo show is on!
Two minutes into time added on before half-time, Mason Greenwood hits it hard and low, the Newcastle goalkeeper spills it and Ronaldo pounces to score his first goal in his first match for his old club. He runs towards the corner flag and unfurls his trademark celebration — the jump and the twirl. Cristiano Ronaldo is back… and how! The noise is deafening.
Half-time means photo ops, more chanting of ‘Glory, Glory Man United’, speculation about changes and talk of more goals from the MVP of the match.
You can hear a pin drop as Newcastle equalises in the 56th minute. But soon, the Red Army is back to their clapping and chanting ways, to urge their club and their hero along.
Luke Shaw finds Ronaldo on the counter-attack. The 36-year-old rolls back the years; a brilliant first touch takes him past the defender and then a left-footer finds its way into the Newcastle net through the legs of the goalkeeper. “I expected one, but not two,” a smiling Ronaldo will go on to say an hour after the match, cheered on by a still-packed Old Trafford. And at TopCat, the second goal has pushed the Red Army Kolkata over the edge. Just yelling themselves hoarse is not enough, they throw in a special celebratory move or “two”.
Bruno Fernandes — now the second most beloved Portuguese star in the United ranks — strikes in the 80th minute and then Jesse Linguard finishes it off in stoppage time.
MU 4: NU 1. “The match couldn’t have gone any better. This is like a fairytale,” says Misha Ghosh.
The Red Army Kolkata is overjoyed. Ronaldo’s triumphant return to Manchester United — and the club climbing to the top of the Premier League table — marked the fan club’s first screening post pandemic. “We were itching to start screenings and watching the matches together; Ronaldo’s debut was the perfect boost,” smiles 28-year-old Swayam Ghosh.
Pictures: Amit Datta