Ferguson: Ronaldo back to his best

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Cristiano Ronaldo is back on top form after the Portuguese winger reached a century of goals for Manchester United in a 5-0 victory over Stoke at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo scored his first after three minutes, his centenary goal for the defending Premier League champions, and added a second in the final minute of the win.

There were also goals for Michael Carrick, set up by Ronaldo, Dimitar Berbatov and young full debutant Danny Welbeck who struck with a magnificent shot six minutes from time.

But the game will be remembered for Ronaldo's impressive landmark and the fact that he already has nine goals to his name this season despite making a delayed start to his own season following ankle surgery in July.

"Fantastic, he's back, right on song," said Ferguson. "His speed has come back. He was taking his time but every game he was getting better.

"His acceleration is marvellous and he has scored his first goals from free-kicks this season, we have been waiting for that to happen. We saw the real power of him.

He does try different things and today he was right on song. He'll soon be in double figures.
Sir Alex Ferguson is expecting great things from Cristiano Ronaldo this season.

"The free-kicks were incredible but he does practise, that's the secret for him. "

Welbeck, who does not turn 18 for another two weeks, was the other hero of the occasion, his superb shot the stuff that schoolboy dreams are made of for a local youngster who grew up supporting the Reds.

"To score on his full debut, gee, he will remember that for the rest of his life," said the manager. "I think he is level-headed and intelligent so we won't have any problem keeping his feet on the ground.

"And there will be a few lads in the dressing room knocking him back down to size, that's for sure."

With Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand rested, and out of England's midweek friendly, it was a young United line-up that coasted across the finishing line with Johnny Evans, Manucho and Darron Gibson all on the field by the game's conclusion.

"It was a very young team but we have some fantastic young players," said Ferguson. "If we just take our time with them and be patient with them, they will be okay."

"Rio and Wayne are out of the internationals. Rio hurt his back in training yesterday and Wayne had a chest infection but also had a calf strain so we pulled him out."

Berbatov's sixth goal, his second league goal in ten games, should have quietened some of the criticism that has been mounting about his efficiency and Ferguson has no doubt that the Bulgarian is coming good.

"I said to him when I signed him that he'll get over 20 goals for us," said Ferguson. "And I'd still put a good bet on that. He's doing very well. The whole team is. There is a good fluidity in the team, a good understanding and movement between the front players."

Stoke manager Tony Pulis, having seen his team on the receiving end of a humbling scoreline, had few complaints about the ultimate result.

"We killed ourselves in the first half, conceding so early," said Pulis. "Once they got their third goal, they smelled blood. And once that happened, we had had it.

"Teams like United pick you off. As soon as they get their noses in front, you have no chance."