EPL

Man Utd have 'massive' chance to win multiple titles after Ronaldo arrival – Olsen

By Sports Desk September 10, 2021

Manchester United have a "massive" opportunity to win multiple titles this season following the return of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, according to former Red Devils winger Jesper Olsen.

Ronaldo is back at Old Trafford after re-joining United from Serie A giants Juventus before the transfer window closed last week – the all-time leading goalscorer in men's international football signing a two-year contract with the option for a third in Manchester.

The 36-year-old won one of his five Ballon d'Or trophies with United, scoring 118 goals in 292 games across his first spell in Manchester as he clinched three Premier League titles and the Champions League – a competition he has since won four more times – before moving to Real Madrid in 2009.

Formerly a dazzling winger but now a penalty-box poacher, Ronaldo has netted 674 times across 895 club games in all competitions, averaging a goal every 108 minutes.

Between his entrance on the Premier League stage and his final appearance in May 2009, Frank Lampard (131) and Thierry Henry (124) were the only two to have a hand in more English top-flight goals than Ronaldo (118) – Henry (92) the only one to outscore Ronaldo's 84.

After his 12-year absence, Ronaldo – who scored the first of his 48 club hat-tricks against Newcastle United in 2008 – is in line to make his debut against the Magpies in the Premier League on Saturday, and former United winger Olsen is excited about the Portuguese's second coming.

"I think it's fantastic. It's a great way to finish his career I suppose. He is 36 now," Olsen, who won the FA Cup during his four years at United in the 1980s, told Stats Perform.

"I was doing a lot of work in Manchester at the time when he arrived, we looked after Wayne Rooney – our sports management company – I can only see the whole thing being positive.

"The stature of the guy and also the players around him getting to play with him and learn from him. Exciting for the Premier League, absolutely."

Not since 2012-13 – Alex Ferguson's final season in charge – have United won the Premier League, while the Red Devils have not celebrated silverware since claiming the Europa League, EFL Cup and Community Shield in 2016-17.

United, who finished second to rivals Manchester City in the Premier League in 2020-21, surprisingly lost to Villarreal in last season's Europa League final.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United have won two of their opening three league fixtures this season, ahead of Newcastle's visit to the Theatre of Dreams.

Ronaldo's last Premier League appearance was in May 2009 against Arsenal – if he faces Newcastle, it will set a new record for the longest gap between appearances in the competition's history (12 years, 118 days).

His last Premier League goal came 12 years and 124 days ago, against City in May 2009. Assuming he scores again for the Red Devils, only one player has ever had a longer gap between Premier League goals – Matt Jackson (13 years and 187 days between May 1993 and November 2006).

"It [Ronaldo's arrival] certainly hasn't made United weaker as a team. It isn't easy to win anything, we know that," Olsen continued. "We talk about Tottenham who haven't won anything for a long time. The Premier League is hard.

"The way United played last season, they got some rhythm and continuation in terms of winning matches. I think they have the spine and now the belief as well. The players seem to have settled in.

"The mixture of younger players, too. The likes of [Paul] Pogba and [Bruno] Fernandes performing well, [Edinson] Cavani coming on to score goals, [Mason] Greenwood as well. I think it's a really good mix. We know there's a lot of different competitions. It's a long season. It can only help them with that squad they have."

With United also bringing in top transfer target Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and World Cup-winning defender Raphael Varane via Real Madrid, pressure is on manager Solskjaer to deliver.

"Every year, if you play for United, you're expected to win titles – players and managers. Obviously, he came to United with a bit of experience but it's a massive club and a huge task," ex-Denmark international Olsen added.

"…It has to click but they definitely have a massive chance to not win one title but possibly a few over the next 12 months.

"It takes time but if you look as a player, and I don't think at any stage or age, if you look around Europe, the bigger clubs you can join, United surely stands as one of those at the top.

"They have certainly been on reliant on a way of playing that suits the team. They will have a lot of ball now with the way they play. It's a lot more settled. They've done really well in terms of signings. It can take some time to settle at United, but after a long time in the wilderness I suppose, it's settled down.

"Solskjaer is very calm and very structured. He knows what he's doing with his management team. It's a very exciting season. Obviously, it all depends on the games and if you win of course."

While fans and pundits have been buoyed by United's transfer business in 2021-22, one recent signing has been left in the wilderness.

Donny Van de Beek joined from Ajax last season amid much fanfare, however the Netherlands international is yet to make an appearance this term, having made just four Premier League starts in 2020-21.

"It doesn't make sense because we all know what he did for Ajax, but there's obviously something that the way Solskjaer wants to play doesn't fit in," Olsen, who also played for Dutch giants Ajax, said. "There's no doubt that you don't become a bad player overnight.

"Maybe he is getting used to a different style and system. Sometimes it takes a while but of course there would be people watching because you don't want to go two-three years without playing when you're such an exciting player who has done so much already."

Related items

  • 'It's like coming home' - Lukaku thrilled to be back at Inter 'It's like coming home' - Lukaku thrilled to be back at Inter

    Romelu Lukaku declared "it's like coming home" after he returned to Inter from Chelsea on Wednesday.

    Lukaku completed a season-long move back to San Siro on Wednesday less than a year after leaving the Nerazzurri to become Chelsea's record signing for a fee of £97.5million.

    The Belgium striker only scored eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances for the London club in the 2021-22 campaign.

    Lukaku found the back of the net 64 times in 95 games during his first spell with Inter, winning the Serie A title last year before signing for Chelsea for a second time.

    The 29-year-old, who has picked 90 as his new shirt number, had made no secret of his desire to play for Inter again and feels he is back where he belongs.

    He told the club's official website: "It's like coming home. My family and I were so happy here thanks to the people, the fans and my team-mates. From the first day I arrived here, everyone helped me settle in.

    "I'm very happy. I kept my home here when I went to England, so that means something. I'm pleased to be back and now I can't wait to get out there with my team-mates."

    Belgium's record goalscorer is determined to put a miserable season with Chelsea behind him.

    He added: "It's an amazing feeling. What we achieved here a year ago was fantastic. That goes for the team, the fans and also me personally.

    "Inter have given me so much and I hope to do even better than last time. It's now time to work hard as a squad and hopefully do even better than before."

    Lukaku also expressed his gratitude to Inter president Steven Zhang for getting the deal done.

    "We spoke about so many things and how it seemed impossible for me to come back here, but we managed it and I'm grateful to him for the way he kept pushing and believing it was possible," he said. "We managed to do it in the end and I'm delighted to be back."

  • Shevchenko's struggles and El Nino's nightmare – Lukaku the latest high-profile striker to flop at Chelsea Shevchenko's struggles and El Nino's nightmare – Lukaku the latest high-profile striker to flop at Chelsea

    Romelu Lukaku's second spell with Chelsea lasted just one season.

    Inter have confirmed the return of Lukaku in a season-long loan deal just 321 days after selling him to Chelsea for just under £100million.

    It reunites Lukaku with the club with whom he won the Scudetto in 2021 and writes another chapter in the history of the Blues signing a high-profile striker, only for them to fail to produce.

    As the London club perhaps wonder what might have been with Lukaku, Stats Perform looks back at the string of forwards who saw their goals dry up after moving to Stamford Bridge.

    Mateja Kezman

    Kezman did not arrive for big money by today's standards, joining from PSV for a £5.3m fee in 2004, but he came with significant expectations after a goal-laden spell in the Eredivisie in which he plundered 105 in 122 league appearances and won the title twice.

    However, he came nowhere close to living up to the billing in his sole season in the Premier League, finding the net seven times in 41 games in all competitions. His most important goal was the ultimately decisive third in Chelsea's League Cup final win over Liverpool as the Blues did the double, going on to claim a first Premier League crown under Jose Mourinho.

    He was subsequently sold to Atletico Madrid and had spells with Fenerbahce and Paris Saint-Germain that delivered more trophies, though he never managed to recapture his PSV form.

    Andriy Shevchenko

    Few strikers in world football were as feared as Shevchenko during his golden years at Milan, for whom he remains the second-highest goalscorer in the club's history with 175.

    Chelsea's £30.8m move to lure him from San Siro in 2006, then a record fee paid by an English club, reflected his reputation. Yet Shevchenko's transition to the Premier League did not go to plan.

    In his final season in Serie A, Shevchenko averaged a goal every 116 minutes. Across two seasons with Chelsea, that dipped to one every 284 minutes in the Premier League. He netted 22 in 77 games in all competitions, with the appointment of Avram Grant as Mourinho's successor in 2007 limiting his game time. Shevchenko won the FA Cup and League Cup with the Blues but was an unused substitute as they lost the 2008 Champions League final to Manchester United.

    He was sent back to Milan for an unsuccessful loan spell before finishing his career back at boyhood club Dynamo Kyiv.

    Fernando Torres

    Torres' 2011 move from Liverpool to Chelsea was one of the most famous January transfers in Premier League history. As with a lot of January moves, it did not have the desired impact.

    In his final two full seasons with Liverpool in 2008-09 and 2009-10, 'El Nino' scored 32 Premier League goals from 166 shots that had an expected goals (xG) value of 13.3. In 2010-11, he scored nine for Liverpool from an xG value of 8.5. Across three and a half seasons with Chelsea, Torres scored 20 league goals from 217 shots with an xG value of 26.5.

    In terms of silverware, Torres was still successful with Chelsea, winning three trophies. His crowning moment came as he scored the decisive goal at Camp Nou against Barcelona to send the Blues into the Champions League final, where they beat Bayern Munich on penalties.

    But his overall output was never close to good enough, and he too had a brief spell at Milan before heading back to where it all began with Atletico Madrid.

    Alvaro Morata

    Of all the players on this list, Morata's relative lack of goalscoring success was the least surprising given he made the move to Stamford Bridge having never scored more than 15 league goals in a single season in his career.

    Moving from Real Madrid on the back of that career-best campaign in 2016-17, Morata was unable to live up to his reported £60m fee, scoring 11 goals in 31 games in his first season and five in 16 in the first half of his second before being loaned to Atletico, who he then joined on a permanent basis having won the FA Cup and Europa League with Chelsea.

    Timo Werner

    Werner still has the chance to turn his Chelsea career around, but the former RB Leipzig striker's time at Stamford Bridge has followed a very similar trajectory to Chelsea's high-profile misfires.

    Having scored 95 goals in 159 games for Leipzig, Werner has netted only 23 in two seasons for Chelsea since his £47.5m move, with his 191 shots carrying an xG value of 33.7, illustrating just how poorly the Germany international has performed in front of goal.

    He has brought value in other areas, serving as a high-energy focal point of the Chelsea attack, but Thomas Tuchel will surely want to see more in terms of end product for Werner to free himself from the 'flop' tag.

    Romelu Lukaku

    Unable to cement a place in the Chelsea first team during his first spell with the club, Lukaku's second act at Stamford Bridge was expected to be much more profitable.

    Chelsea forked out a club-record £97.5m on that proving to be the case but have now moved to cut their losses and allow Lukaku to return to Inter, if only on loan.

    Lukaku scored a goal every 120 minutes in helping Inter to Serie A glory in 2020-21 but managed just eight in the Premier League at one every 198 minutes.

    Between Werner and Lukaku, Chelsea could not afford to carry two struggling strikers, with the latter becoming the latest in a long line of misguided attacking investments to make a swift exit.

  • Chelsea striker Lukaku returns to Inter in loan deal Chelsea striker Lukaku returns to Inter in loan deal

    Romelu Lukaku has returned to Inter on loan after a disappointing first season back at Chelsea.

    The Belgium striker only scored eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances after his club-record £97.5million move back to Stamford Bridge last August.

    Lukaku's second spell at Chelsea took another turn for the worse when he said stated in an interview with Sky Italia late last year that he was not happy with his role at the London club.

    The  29-year-old declared: "I know I will return to Inter, I really hope so. I am in love with Italy."

    He has now got his wish, sealing a switch back to San Siro for the 2022-23 season less than a year after leaving for a huge fee.

    "We're back baby. I'm very happy, thanks for the compliments. Remember three years ago, we were here? We're back," he said in a social media video alongside Inter chairman Steven Zhang.

    Asked by Zhang whether he promises to 'score lots of goals at San Siro', he added: "That's what we're here for. I keep my promises."

    Lukaku will try and help Inter wrestle back the Serie A title from city rivals Milan after he played a huge part in their Scudetto triumph in the 2020-21 season, scoring 24 goals in 32 league games.

    During his previous two-year spell, no Nerazzurri player scored more goals (64), provided more assists (17) or created as many chances (133) in all competitions.

    The former Manchester United and Everton frontman formed a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez under Antonio Conte as Inter lifted their first league title in 11 years.

    Lukaku is likely to also be joined by forward Paulo Dybala, who will reportedly join Simone Inzaghi's side after leaving Juventus as a free agent.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.