WITH soccer legend Ronaldo’s second ‘debut’ for Manchester United imminent, the sportsbooks are still to be convinced about the merits of the Red Devils’ title ambitions.
A club once synonymous with English Premier League titles – they won 13 between 1993 and 2013 under Sir Alex Ferguson – United have not lifted the trophy for eight years, and remain only fourth favorites to do so come May next year.
Whilst cups can be won by picking the right team against particular opposition, the title is seen by most in the game as the ultimate test of soccer, as it is played over many months and 38 league matches. And the bookies rate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United as only 5/1 (500) to win the Premier League, well behind favorites and bitter rivals Manchester City who are 6/5 (120) – you bet $100 on Manchester City to win the title and you get $120 back if they do. To claim your bet bonus use the promotional code for William Hill.
Despite the excitement among the fanbase about Ronaldo’s return which will undoubtedly reach fever pitch ahead of his expected first appearance at Old Trafford against Newcastle United, the more measured view is that the title is still beyond them, reports The Reporter Times.
They may have spent in excess of £130million ($180million) on new signings, but even the return of 36-year-old Ronaldo isn’t enough to convince Red Devils’ legend Gary Neville about their title credentials.
Neville, who is now one of soccer’s top pundits in Europe, sees the strength of teams like City and Chelsea – the Londoners are 11/4 (275) to win the league – as too much for United to overcome at present.
Pep Guardiola’s City won the Premier League last season with United finishing runners-up, but Neville believes his former club will struggle to even match their second-placed finish this time around. Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea were down in fourth last time around, but Neville believes the Champions League winners will push United down into third spot.
“I still feel there are a couple of teams that are better,” said Neville, who won eight titles as a defence player for United in a one-club career. “The Premier League I think is the strongest it’s been since the mid-2000s.
“I think it’s an unbelievably strong Premier League at this moment in time with great coaches, great teams, great players and that’s been strengthened by this transfer window.
“I made the prediction that it would be Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United (in that order) and I’m not going to change that because of the signing of Ronaldo. But now I’m more excited about Manchester United challenging for the title than I was maybe five or six days ago (before Ronaldo signing).” CNN
Apart from the return of Ronaldo, United have strengthened in defence and offence with the signings of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid and Jadon Sancho from German side Borussia Dortmund. The two players are both expected to add some real quality to coach Solskjaer’s first-team this season, but it’s the purchase of Portuguese superstar Ronaldo that has really lit up Old Trafford. But Manchester City and Chelsea have spent the real big-money on their own superstars with both splashing out £100million ($138 million) on players. Jack Grealish was rewarded for impressing during the recent football European Championships with a move to City while Romelu Lukaku returned to Chelsea after leaving Stamford Bridge in 2014