Why Cristiano Ronaldo captained Manchester United vs. Wolves for the first time since 2008

Cristiano Ronaldo was given the captain’s armband for Manchester United’s Premier League match against Wolves on Jan. 3, 2022, the first time he has served as club captain since 2008.

The Red Devils’ regular captain Harry Maguire was left out of the team, with manager Ralf Rangnick pointing to a chest injury that forced him to miss out.

So it was up to the Portugal international to lead Rangnick’s team out for the encounter at Old Trafford for the first time since he returned to the club in the summer of 2021.

Rangnick made it clear that it was either Ronaldo or David De Gea and he opted for his leading scorer:

Last time Ronaldo was Man United captain?

Ronaldo was last given the Manchester United armband on March 19, 2008, for a Premier League match against Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford, a contest won by the Red Devils 2-0.

Sir Alex Ferguson was still manager and he asked Ronaldo to stand in for regular captain and Wales veteran Ryan Giggs, who was on the bench alongside Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.

The Portugal superstar netted both goals in the comfortable 2-0 home victory in true captain form, breaking Man Utd legend George Best’s record of goals from a midfielder in a single season. 

The defeat of Bolton lifted the Red Devils three points clear of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table with eight fixtures remaining in the campaign and Man United ultimately won that season’s Premier League title.

Phil Jones makes Man United return

The absence of center backs Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof against Wolves resulted in Phil Jones making his first appearance for the senior team since January 2020.

The defender has been out of action due to a knee injury and has been playing with the Under-23 side as he worked his way back to match fitness.

“He was extremely professional all the time even when he wasn’t in the squad,” Rangnick said of Jones to MUTV.

“We knew since last night our other two center backs that played against Burnley were out, so for me it was the logical choice.

“Victor was still positive [for COVID-19], so it was clear since yesterday he wouldn’t be available. Harry got a knock on his chest against Burnley — we hoped he would be okay, but yesterday he was trying and it wasn’t possible. He had too much pain even just standing around, it wasn’t possible for him to play.”

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