Manchester United fans welcomed back Cristiano Ronaldo to the Theatre of Dreams this summer.
Supporters hoped the Portuguese attacker, known throughout planet football as one of the best players in the game – if not the best – would fire the Red Devils back to the summit of the Premier League and into the latter stages of the Champions League. Their returning hero was, to many in the stands, the chosen one.
Things haven’t gone according to plan for either the club or the player so far. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked from his position following a woeful run of form while Ronaldo is yet to set the heather alight in the scoring charts. Both must improve, and they must do it fast if they are to have any chance of saving their season and scrambling back into the title race. Many of the best betting apps have already written Manchester United off to lift the trophy, and you’ll find big odds available on CR7 to be the competition’s top scorer.
As we head into the thick of winter in British football and a hectic festive period draws ever closer, all eyes are on the Old Trafford club. The incoming manager must hit the ground running, and he must have the complete trust of his new recruits from day one. Anything less would be a threat to the club’s season, so the board know they must get the decision right. Getting Ronaldo back to his best and firing again will be the new man’s number one priority.
Ronaldo suffered a disappointing season when at Juventus last term with the Old Lady finally forced to release their grip on Italian football. The team had their worst campaign in a generation, but there were the usual positives for Ronaldo. Despite his employers only just making it into the top-four and this season’s Champions League thanks to a strong finish, Cristiano was the Serie A’s top goalscorer, leaving the likes of Romelu Lukaku choking in his dust. He’s a man with the talents to win a game on his own or turn things in his team’s favour with a moment of madness.
Man Utd fans were reminded of that when he scored the winner in a thrilling Champions League group match against Atalanta recently. CR7 netted the winner in a 3-2 victory for the Red Devils at Old Trafford, helping claim all three points despite the Italian Serie A side racing into a 2-0 lead inside 28 minutes. He did the same earlier in the group campaign when finding the net with 95 minutes on the clock to clinch a win over Villarreal.
Those late goals and match-winning moments have helped keep Man Utd fighting for a place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, but Ronaldo hasn’t been anywhere near as effective in the Premier League. After nine matches played in the campaign for Ronaldo, he has found the net just four times, with that tally leaving him down in ninth place in the league’s scoring charts. He has found the net the same number of times as teammate Bruno Fernandes as well as the likes of Josh King, Reece James and Raphina.
The stats tell the whole story
That doesn’t do much to inspire confidence in his chances of winning the golden boot this season, but it’s worth digging a little deeper. Ronaldo has scored a goal every 184 minutes on average, which is better than some of the players in the top five. That tells us when he is injury-free and able to enjoy a run of games, he will score more goals and challenge the leading names on the list. Cristiano also boasts 55% shot accuracy, which is level with third top scorer Jamie Vardy who has played three more games.
Man Utd and Ronaldo now enter an important stage of the season where the games come thick and fast. His start hasn’t been easy and he wasn’t helped by missing three of the first 12 league games, but as the new manager comes in, everyone in the dressing room will enjoy a clean slate, including Ronaldo.