Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to use comparisons with Manchester United’s legendary ‘Holy Trinity’ as motivation to get even better.
The names of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton still roll off the tongue as easily as they did in their 1960s heyday.
They were afforded their nickname by United fans as recognition of their immense contribution to the Old Trafford club’s rise to the top of the European game just a decade after the Munich Air Crash had cruelly wiped out Matt Busby’s ‘Babes’.
Yet now Ronaldo is part of a new trio being afforded a favourable comparison with the illustrious heroes of the past.
Together with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, the Portugal winger knows he still has some work to do if he is to leave a legacy as distinct as the one Best, Law and Charlton created.
Indeed, Charlton is amongst those who think they can although for now the 22-year-old is happy to be mentioned in the same terms.
“To be compared to some of the best players in the history of Manchester United, absolute legends at the club, is good and just gives us more motivation to work hard,” said Ronaldo.
“It would be fantastic if people still talked about me at United after I finished playing.
“Sir Bobby is an honest guy. When he says something positive about me and my colleagues, it is good.
“He knows football. He knows about the game and this club. He knows how difficult it is when you are young, so his words will only help me to do better.”
The weekend could hardly have gone any better for Ronaldo and his team-mates.
After overcoming a sodden pitch and an obdurate Derby outfit at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, United then saw next Sunday’s opponents Liverpool crash to defeat at Reading.
If that was not enough, 24 hours later Arsenal lost their unbeaten record at Middlesbrough, meaning what had been a four-point deficit on the Gunners before the weekend has now been reduced to just one.
Not that Ronaldo is getting too excited just yet.
The former Sporting Lisbon star knows it is where the Red Devils are in mid-May that counts, not mid-December.
“The priority is to finish top at the end of the season, so the best thing we can do is concentrate on our own results,” he said.
“We should not worry if we don’t pass Arsenal next week. There is plenty of time left.
“We play Liverpool next weekend and if we win that we will have a better chance.”
In snubbing Tevez’s pleas to take the late penalty against Derby on Saturday, Ronaldo not only denied the South American a hat-trick opportunity, he also allowed himself to net for the 14th time this season and extend a run of scoring in seven out of the last eight games in which he has been involved.
It is a new landmark, even for a player of Ronaldo’s exceptional ability. And it is one he would like to keep going over the next week, especially with a visit to Anfield on the horizon.
“I have not been on a run like this before. I am very proud of it and hopefully I can carry on,” he said.
“I feel I am getting better. I try to improve every year and my ambition is to be better than I was two years ago.”
With top spot in Group F secure, Ronaldo could be one of the star names rested from Wednesday’s encounter with Roma in the Stadio Olimpico.
The 22-year-old’s name did not feature in the likely starting line-up named by Ferguson on Saturday evening and given his importance next weekend, Ronaldo might well be give a few days off rather than make the trip to Italy.
“I respect the manager’s decision,” he said.
“He knows what is best for the team. Our squad is big and other players want a game as well, so if I stay here it won’t be a problem.”