Cristiano Ronaldo believes Manchester United still need time to gel as a team but insists he remains as motivated as ever to reach even higher levels of success.
Ronaldo made a stunning return to Old Trafford in the summer but while he has delivered blockbuster moments in the Champions League – most recently in a thrilling comeback win against Atalanta – United’s expensively-assembled stars have stuttered in the Premier League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who face old foes Liverpool on Super Sunday, are already five points off leaders Chelsea after eight games, and have not won in their last three top-flight fixtures, with just one clean sheet to show from their last 13.
Ronaldo admits United are still in a period of “adaptation” but called for “sacrifice” from his team-mates and believes his experience, as well as goals, can kickstart an upturn in domestic fortunes.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves ahead of Sunday’s showdown, Ronaldo said: “We are in a moment in my opinion that Manchester (United) do a few changes; they buy me, they buy (Raphael) Varane and (Jadon) Sancho.
“The adaptation will take time, even the system of the game that we play, but I think step by step we have to put it in our mind that everything is possible.
“I don’t speak only about my individual stuff, I put the collective in first place. To win things as a collective, it’s more easy to win individual stuff, I still think it’s possible.
“Everyone should know their role. I know my role in the team, in the club… my role is to score goals, to help the team with my experience and know-how to understand the game.
“If everyone is thinking like that, sacrifice for the team, I think we will be a better team. We have fantastic supporters behind us, fantastic stadium, fantastic team, so we have to carry on like that.”
‘Retire from international football? Why? I want more’
Ronaldo became the all-time top scorer in men’s international football in September when he surpassed Ali Daei’s previous record of 109 for Iran, and has since streaked ahead with 115 goals.
It was just the latest in a string of milestones for a player who is the all-time top scorer in Europe’s top five leagues with 479 goals so far in 591 appearances, and who has scored the most goals (137) and made the most appearances (179) in Champions League history.
Asked if he would consider retiring from international duty to help prolong his club career, Ronaldo said: “But why? I think it’s not my time yet.
“It’s not what people want, it’s what I want. It’s when I feel that I’m not capable to run, to dribble, to shoot, if the power is gone… but I still have that stuff so I want to continue because I’m still motivated.
“It’s the main word – [motivated] to do my stuff, to make people happy and my family happy and the fans and myself. I want to put the level even higher.
“You speak about Portugal but in the Champions League I have the most goals, the most wins, assists… everything. But I want to carry on. I like to play football. I feel good to make people happy.”
Watch more from Geoff Shreeves’ exclusive interview with Cristiano Ronaldo across Sky Sports platforms on Saturday morning and in the build-up to Man Utd vs Liverpool on Super Sunday.
‘Salah and Ronaldo back up the talk’
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
“Cristiano was the first person I’d ever heard say that he wanted to become the best player in the world. It was quite unusual to hear it as everyone talks about the team and the collective.
“To hear Mohamed Salah say it in his interview is refreshing but I think you can say these things when you’re delivering, and these two [Salah and Ronaldo] have delivered now consistently.
“Ronaldo for 10-15 years and Mo Salah for five or six years and beyond. They’re absolutely deadly. They’re ruthless and they’re clinical. Their standards have always been exceptional and their output has always been good.”
‘Pursuit to be the best drives Ronaldo and Salah on’
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher:
“Without a doubt there are similarities. Mo Salah was answering the question from Patrick Davison and he’d answered before Pat had finished it. He wants to be the best in the world, while Ronaldo knows all the stats in which he’s top in the Champions League.
“There’s a drive in him to be better than Lionel Messi and in Mo Salah to be better than anyone else in the Premier League. Can Salah get to the sort of numbers we saw from Messi and Ronaldo in their pomp in La Liga?
“Of course, these players play for their team but they play for themselves as well and that’s not a criticism. That’s what drives them on. They’re never injured as well.
“They tend to play on if they are as they’re always thinking they’ve got a chance of getting another goal or an assist. The numbers matter to them so much and I just can’t wait for Sunday.”
Essential Football Podcast: Carra’s big-match preview
On the latest Essential Football Podcast, Pete Smith is joined by Jamie Carragher, Michael Bridge and Oliver Yew to preview another bumper weekend of Premier League action.
PART 1 | Jamie Carragher’s big Manchester United vs Liverpool preview
PART 2 | Michael Bridge on West Ham vs Spurs, and why Dele Alli my need a fresh start
PART 3 | Arsenal vs Aston Villa on Friday Night Football and Brighton vs Man City on Saturday Night Football: City look devastating again, Cole Palmer focus
Follow Man Utd vs Liverpool on Sky Sports
Follow all the build-up to Manchester United vs Liverpool across Sky Sports News and Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including exclusive interviews and expert insight.
Coverage will begin on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 4pm on Super Sunday, following West Ham vs Tottenham; kick-off 4.30pm. David Jones will be joined by Graeme Souness and Jamie Redknapp in the studio, with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on the gantry with Martin Tyler for co-commentary.
You can also follow all the action from Old Trafford across our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including in-game clips and free match highlights shortly after full-time.
Watch all the post-match analysis and interviews on Sky Sports Premier League, plus read the latest features, pundit and manager reaction on SkySports.com and app.