Manchester United To Finish Top Four At 8/11 With Bet365

Former Manchester United star Mikael Silvestre has defended Cristiano Ronaldo’s influence at Old Trafford, dismissing as “absolute rubbish” claims he is behind their woes this season.

Ronaldo, 36, made a sensational return to United in September after signing from Juventus for a transfer fee of £18million plus add-ons.

Yet they have largely struggled for consistency this term and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was axed last month after an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at Watford.

The wisdom of bringing Ronaldo back to the club has been queried in some quarter, but Silvestre said: “This comment about him being a problem is absolute rubbish.

“Look at the ratio of goals scored; chances created since the start of the season.

“He wants to help, wants to win trophies. He didn’t come to United to relax pre-retirement, it’s an even a bigger challenge than what he faced at his previous clubs.”

Ralf Rangnick has guided United to 1-0 victories in their two Premier League games, at home to Crystal Palace and away to Norwich City, since taking charge.

Ronaldo gave United the points from the penalty spot at Carrow Road to keep them on the coat tails of the top four.

Silvestre can certainly the veteran Portugal international’s worth, adding: “Ronaldo left United after winning the Balon D’or, winning the Premier League and being a top player.

“He knew there would be questions asked of him and what he can bring but he’s a leader.

“He doesn’t wear the armband, but he shows the way and everything has been positive in what he’s done.”

United’s title hopes appear but over this season and failure to finish in top four is unthinkable for Rangnick’s side.

They are short odds with many bookmakers to achieve that goal ahead of their trip to Newcastle United on Monday.

Bet365 are offering 8/11 for Rangnick’s men to finish in the top four, but Silvestre insists there should have been a Covid-enforced break during the Christmas period.

He added: “It comes back to if your squad members are all ready and fit to compete.

“You don’t want to put people at risk just for football. I know this will cause an issue with the calendar and everyone will have to play every three days, but if that’s what it takes, then we have to do it. 

“At the moment, we’re trying to finish like patchwork and it’s not good.

“Everyone’s doubting the organisation; the Premier League, the vaccine. It’s not a nice atmosphere for anyone.”