Manchester United sent shockwaves through the international football world in late August when it completed the deal for Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. After landing the multiple Ballon d’Or winner from Italy’s Juventus, Manchester United signed him to a two-year deal.

Ronaldo’s return to the club where from 2003 through 2009 he won eight major football trophies was not only surprising to fans, but it shuffled up the outlook for many of the English clubs. 

Sportsbooks around the world responded by adjusting their odds for Ronaldo’s return. But, is Manchester United bound to win the English Premier League with this move?

The betting favourites

Despite Ronaldo’s well-publicised return to Manchester United, the club currently ranks as the fourth most likely club to win the English Premier League. The club with the best odds is Manchester City, which has odds of 1/20.

Second on the list is Chelsea at 1/10, then Liverpool and Manchester United tied with 1/4 odds. Tottenham Hotspur at 13/5 and Leicester City at 16/5 round out the top six clubs according to the betting odds.

While at Old Trafford in his first go-around, Ronaldo led Manchester United to the Premier League title three times. The club hasn’t recaptured that title since the 2013 season, so they are hoping their fate turns around this year.

At Juventus last season, Ronaldo led the Serie A scoring charts with 29 goals. He did that at the age of 35, too, so it’s clear that he’s still got a lot left in the tank.

Question marks remain

While Ronaldo has returned to Old Trafford, some experts believe that Manchester United will still be on the outside looking in at the end of the season. Manchester City do not have and out-and-out goas-scorer, but Pep Guardiola’s unique style of play actually benefits from not having a central striker. Romelu Lukaku returned to Chelsea, while Manchester United, like their city rivals, did not have a bona fide striker to lead the team up front, save veteran Edinson Cavani who is nearing the end of his career.

The early rumours revolved around Harry Kane coming to Manchester United, but he eventually stayed with Tottenham Hotspur for the upcoming season. 

Ronaldo is bound to give Manchester United a serious upgrade in goal scoring, though. He has tallied at least 25 goals in league play in each of the 12 seasons following his departure from Manchester United. That is barely believable goal-scoring consistency and a powerful counter-argument against critics saying Ronaldo does not contribute enough to all-round team play.

The last time the club had one player score that many goals in a season was Robin van Persie, when he scored 26 goals in the 2012-13 campaign. Ronaldo’s best season for Manchester United was in 2007-08 when he scored 42 goals in only 49 games.

At the same time, Manchester United was not really short on goals last season. They scored 73 in the last campaign, which was the highest season total for the club since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Goalkeepers’ nightmare

One area where Ronaldo will help significantly, too, is just on simple pressure on the opposition keepers. Last season with Juventus, Ronaldo attempted 162 total shots. The most any Manchester United player attempted last year was 110, by Bruno Fernandes.

More important than overall total shot attempts are the number of attempts that were on target. Ronaldo had 60 with Juventus last season. Kane led the entire Premier League with 47 last season, while Fernandes was Manchester United’s leader with 40.

This is very important for Manchester United, as they ranked sixth in the Premier League with 517 total shot attempts. Their shots on target were better, with 197, ranking them third in the league.

Having a world-class player of Ronaldo’s stature constantly involved in goalmouth action and not wasting golden opportunities should be huge for Manchester United as a whole. Even when Ronaldo himself doesn’t score, he’ll be opening up lanes and opportunities for other players such as Fernandes.

Manchester City still the favourite

Manchester City won the Premier League, running away with it last year, recording 12 more points than any other club. Under the guidance of their manager Pep Guardiola, Manchester City has won three of the past four Premier League titles.

In this offseason, they added Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, which will boost an already impressively talented roster. After a shock opening day defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, they have quickly clicked into gear in the 2021-22 season, with two straight 5-0 victories over Norwich City and Arsenal, with some of the club’s leaders such as midfielders Kevin DeBruyne and Ilkay Gundogan yet to fully hit their stride.

With City seated on their throne at the top of the Premier League, and Champions League winners Chelsea also looking extremely strong too, Manchester United’s task to be champions of England is anything but easy, even with Ronaldo back at Old Trafford. Bottom line, though, is Manchester United surely have a better chance of winning the EPL with Ronaldo in their ranks than they do without him. 

 

Comments (4)

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I think with Ole in charge, it will be difficult. Oddly, I think Chelsea will be favourites this season as Tuchel as proven his tactical acumen.

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Agree. Why does Ole play Fred in the middle? Unless someone gets hurt, possibility with all these games, ManU with this coach, I don't know.

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“Even when Ronaldo himself doesn’t score, he’ll be opening up lanes and opportunities for other players such as Fernandes.” Ya just like he does for him with Portugal lol

Clearly, you didn’t watch United last year. Cavani was a class striker for...

“Even when Ronaldo himself doesn’t score, he’ll be opening up lanes and opportunities for other players such as Fernandes.” Ya just like he does for him with Portugal lol

Clearly, you didn’t watch United last year. Cavani was a class striker for them which is why they were desperate to bring him back for another season. Cavani has much more left in the tank than Ronaldo. The biggest thing against Cavani is that he is injury prone and will even hold himself out if he just isn’t feeling up to it despite getting medical clearance, which happened last year.

United didn’t need him. The only reason they signed him was that they couldn’t bare seeing him play for City and Mendes knew that. He leveraged them. It was pretty telling that Ronaldo didn’t really have any suitors once he made it clear he didn’t want to play for Juve anymore. Pep didn’t really want to sign him and had to be convinced and rumors are he never was. It’s so myopic to just look at goals when assessing a players fit.

United are going to struggle with how to integrate him, especially when Rashford returns. They have so much young attacking talent that need minutes. Plus, with Ole never wanting to stray from a double-pivot that pushes Pogba out wide further crowding the attacking options. United and Pogba’s performances dip when he plays as a number 8 because they don’t have a reliable DM to let Pogba push a little bit further up the park. Pogba is a decent not great ball winner so with Ronaldo on the pitch they will be even more exposed because they lose any forward pressure to help the middle of the park.

Believe it or not, I want Ronaldo to work. I don’t know how it will but that’s not my problem to figure out lol. Ole has said he sees him more as a 9 at this point in his career, which I agree, but history says he just isn’t effective there. He also doesn’t seem to like it either. It would be epic to see him come back to United and help them win their first title since 2013. I do fear that he may be a flop which would be really hard to watch. I don’t want to see him devolve, like a boxer that hangs on too long, at United.

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Ole makes everything more difficult. Tactically, he's proven inept due to how he's handled formations and I'm not sold on his man management at all. Suited for team ambassador role more than anything else. Current coaching staff is lacking as...

Ole makes everything more difficult. Tactically, he's proven inept due to how he's handled formations and I'm not sold on his man management at all. Suited for team ambassador role more than anything else. Current coaching staff is lacking as well. Rotation of players will be critical to be competitive across all fronts, and although the squad is deep, I lack confidence in that being handled properly'

I believe that Cristiano will mostly help with the drive to win. This current squad still has too many dips in form verse lower caliber team, and I don't think he'll allow that.
Regardless, it's exciting times at Man United once again. They're back in the headlines for all the right reasons.

On a side nite, I too agree with previous poster, that Chelsea are favorites to win the league. I do think that people are sleeping on Liverpool, who could be at full strength this campaign. This could/should be a four horse race to the title, with City and Man United in the mix.

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