“Its time I talk about this young star at Manchester United. He did what I wasn’t able to do at Manchester United back then. I think he might be better that me. No winger can be able to do that accept him”-Cristiano Ronaldo finally breaks silence on Alejandro Garnacho doing what Cristiano Ronaldo did not do at Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo was an immediate fans’ favourite at Man United 20 years ago and Alejandro Garnacho is generating similar levels of adoration.

The longest run of starts Cristiano Ronaldo had as a 19-year-old at Manchester United was eight and the eighth came on his 20th birthday. Alejandro Garnacho has started in United’s last 13 matches.Garnacho lined up in consecutive games only once last season and he does not turn 20 until July. He was dropped from the Argentina squad on account of his form and laruped in an overhead kick on his next outing at Goodison Park.

He opted for Ronaldo’s signature ‘Siiiu’ celebration and the parallels are growing between the two United-bred wingers. Garnacho conducted his on-pitch interview after the comeback against Aston Villa to the sound of ‘Viva Garnacho’, first aired at Old Trafford on an uplifting night he scored twice in the FA Youth Cup final at the age of 17.Ronaldo once handed a 17-year-old Garnacho his hat-trick ball and Garnacho’s Twitter profile used to be adorned by a cover photo of him embracing Ronaldo. From ball boy to baller.

Back in August, almost every request at the shirt-printing hub in the Meagstore was for ‘Mount 7’. More on account of the number than the name. The queues would have been longer had ‘Garnacho’ hovered above the ‘7’.

It was sensible management by Erik ten Hag to deny Garnacho that privilege. Too much too young. The number has had the hex over anyone who has received it in the last 14 years, bar the returning Ronaldo in his first season.Maybe 17 is the new 7. A number first donned by Colin McKee nearly 30 years ago and Andy Cole in his first 18 months at United has never been more en vogue with Garnacho strutting his stuff.Garnacho switched to the right, Ronaldo’s old stomping ground, against Villa. He scored twice and was the man of the match.

“Btw first game playing rw. Even in the academy he never played there,” Garnacho’s giddy brother Roberto tweeted on Tuesday evening. It was certainly Alejandro’s first senior start on the right-hand side.”Previously, he was almost more comfortable on the left but I think he can play on the right as well,” Ten Hag said. “Today, I think he was on that right side over 90 minutes an absolute threat.”The United supporters fed off Garnacho’s enterprise and emotion as they recorded another 3-2 comeback to add to the vintages of 2002 and 2012 at Villa Park. He agonised over a cross that eluded Rasmus Hojlund in the first half and refused to be deterred by the eventual offside the VAR flagged early in the second.

There was confidence to draw from that composed one-on-one with Emiliano Martinez. Such scenarios have been Garnacho’s Achilles heel – think of Burnley and Leeds last season and Luton, Liverpool and West Ham this season. The latter cost United on Saturday. Lesson learned.Garnacho already has as many goals this season – five – as last season. Ronaldo claimed 15 goals in his first two campaigns with United and was also a regular for Portugal, starting in four of their six games at the European Championship in 2004. Garnacho has only played 51 minutes for Argentina and Ten Hag has capitalised on coach Lionel Scaloni’s pragmatism.Garnacho has started 26 times for United and that is only two shy of the 28 Ronaldo was granted as a teenager under Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson was prone to safe selections of Darren Fletcher on the right whereas Garnacho entered a dressing room teeming with right-footed left wingers.Anthony Elanga has gone, Jadon Sancho is going and Anthony Martial is a goner. In recent months, Garnacho has deservedly and consistently started ahead of United’s player of the year.

Yet United were a more rampant attacking force with Marcus Rashford back in the XI on the left wing. There were glimpses of the Rashford of last season during a busy first half where he was twice denied by Martinez. Ezri Konsa, an auxiliary right-back, will long for a return to the centre after the chasing he got.It was Rashford’s first start in six games and he was integral to United’s most captivating attacking performance of the season. Sardonically cheered off against Manchester City and booed by a minority against Chelsea, he received a grateful standing ovation upon his removal on Boxing Day.”I think he (Rashford) played very good but he was ill during the period,” Ten Hag said of Rashford’s time out of the team. “Also, he had one or two games that we prefer to play Garnacho over the left side because he deserved it.

“He showed he was not only a threat, he had key actions, assists, shots on target, scored goals. So there is also internal competition, but we have to see how we fit them in together.

“Today we played Alejandro on the right side but can also be fluid and I know Rashford will also score from the right-hand side.”As newsworthy as Garnacho’s poor timekeeping on his maiden pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia was, it is often overlooked Garnacho reported for pre-season at Carrington early, having participated in the Toulon Tournament.A teenage Ronaldo was back promptly from the Athens Olympics in 2004

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