Manchester United’s odds to win the Premier League were cut into 11/2 following the news that Cristiano Ronaldo will return to the club.
But does the Portuguese superstar make United genuine title contenders?
Manchester United looked an improved model as they thrashed Leeds 5-1 on the opening weekend of the season, Paul Pogba seemingly rejuvenated in a new role, registering four assists in the game, as well as Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and even Victor Lindelof looking in top form – and that was all before Raphael Varane had even kicked a ball.
A sobering 1-1 draw with Southampton last weekend brought the Red Devils swiftly back down to earth though, and once again the questions around Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s managerial capabilities resurfaced.
The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo feels like an accidental one. Almost as if he told United he wanted to come back, and they agreed because, well, he’s Ronaldo.
Signing Ronaldo almost seems counterintuitive considering the club reportedly hired 50 new scouts in an attempt to overhaul their transfer policy.
Manchester United are looking to move in a different direction as a club, to make more informed decisions in the transfer market, less rash signings, yet they have reverted to type and gone against all the measures they have tried to put in place.
What will Ronaldo bring?
Having said all that, this is Ronaldo, and everywhere Ronaldo has been throughout his career goals and trophies have followed.
During his first spell in Manchester, only Frank Lampard and Thierry Henry had a hand in more Premier League goals than Ronaldo, the Portuguese forward scoring 84 and assisting 34.
No player in history has scored more than Ronaldo’s 134 Champions League goals – Lionel Messi is 14 behind – while his career total goals of 653 needs little elaboration.
Ronaldo has also overperformed his Expected Goals total in each of the last two seasons for Juventus, meaning his finishing is as clinical as ever.
Bringing clinical finishers into a club is never a bad thing, but it is important for United that they maintain their high levels in such categories.
United themselves overperformed their Expected Goals output by more than seven goals last season, and a drop-off in that performance would make a title challenge difficult.
Already though, the Red Devils have begun the season in ruthless fashion, scoring six goals from just 3.4 xG, and adding Ronaldo to that can only improve their chances of finishing at the top of the tree.
And if Pogba continues his current rate of chance creation, as well as the ingenuity of Jadon Sancho, not to mention Bruno Fernandes, Ronaldo will certainly not be bereft of opportunities to add to his remarkable goal record.
Source: Jake Pearson