Are Manchester United now real title contenders with the signing of Ronaldo?

3:13pm Sep 13 2021

Man United signed Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in late August, bringing the forward to Old Trafford for his second spell.

The 36-year-old represented the Red Devils between 2003 and 2009. He made nearly 300 appearances and scored 118 in his first stint in Manchester. Ronaldo also helped United win major trophies, and he lifted the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in six successful years.

The stage is now set for Ronaldo’s return to England, and he can support United once again in their bid for more major honours. Since 2013, the Red Devils have failed to win the Premier League, and they have not won a major trophy since lifting the FA Cup in 2016.

For Premier League Betting this season, Ronaldo could be the difference in United’s first successful title bid for nearly a decade.

What Will Ronaldo Add to United’s Title Push?

Despite being in the twilight of his career, Ronaldo has shown consistent ability in recent seasons. The Portuguese captain joined Juventus in 2017 from Real Madrid and had a successful three years in Turin. He scored 28 goals in his first season, then more than 30 in subsequent seasons in Italy, and made 20 assists.

Ronaldo still can produce at the highest level, and he will bring his competitiveness and desire to win to United. The edge that a player of his calibre provides could give Ole Gunnar Solskjær an extra edge that his team have sorely lacked in recent seasons.

In the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, United finished 12 points behind Man City. Solskjær’s side were hard to beat throughout the season and showed patches of form that, if they maintained, would have taken them closer to City at the top of the table.

But 11 draws, the joint third highest in the top-flight last season, ultimately ended United’s hopes of really challenging City. In particular, a run of six draws from eight away matches mid-way through the season saw United drop further behind City.

Embed from Getty Images

Already in the new campaign, United have shown a lack of cutting edge away from home. The Manchester club have played Southampton and Wolves away so far this season. They were held to a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s before a late Mason Greenwood goal saw them narrowly defeat Wolves 1-0 at Molineux.

It is fixtures like these where Ronaldo could provide an extra edge for Untied as the Portuguese scored 16 of his 29 Serie A goals away from home last season.

But Ronaldo also comes with Premier League experience as he made nearly 200 appearances and scored 84 goals during his first spell at Old Trafford. This experience will be valuable in making up the ground that was lost last season. But it will also add competition for Edinson Cavani and provide invaluable support for the younger forwards Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, which could again add the additional guile that was missing last season.

Does Ronaldo Cover Weaker Areas of Squad?

Signing Ronaldo is a good addition to United’s squad, and, on paper, the Red Devils have one of the most talented teams in the Premier League. In addition to Ronaldo, United signed Raphael Varane from Real Madrid and Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

However, while all three players are a sign of intent that United want to close the gap om City this season, there are still frailties elsewhere in Solskjær’s squad.

Early results this season and towards the end of last season reflect United’s ability to defend effectively (conceding four goals in their last five) and to score goals (scoring 10 in their last five). But, the depth and quality of United’s central midfield could be an area of concern.

Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes are excellent options for Solskjær, with Scott McTominay showed signs of good form last season. However, Fred has struggled to perform to a high standard consistently, and he has made costly mistakes this season. The midfielder scored an own goal against Southampton and made an error that almost led to a goal against Wolves.

Embed from Getty Images

The signing of Ronaldo, while important to give United an alternative attacking threat, may not be enough without a solid midfield. In comparison to their title rivals, this weakness in United’s squad is clear.

City have Rodri and Fernandinho in central midfield, who played regularly in this position together last season, while Bernardo Silva has proven an effective backup on occasion.

Liverpool have Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin available in central midfield.

With an established core, holding their teams together and linking a solid defence and potent attack, Liverpool and City may have an edge over United. Although United have Ronaldo to add to their world class attack, unless Solskjær can find an effective way of combining this with a solid spine in midfield, Ronaldo’s impact on their title chances could be weakened.