Gary Neville believes the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo has brought Manchester United into the title conversation, though he still feels Manchester City and Chelsea are the favourites to claim Premier League glory this season.
The Red Devils confirmed on Friday afternoon that they had agreed a fee with Juventus to bring the Portuguese superstar back to Old Trafford, subject to the 36-year-old agreeing personal terms and completing a medical.
Although Neville says the five-time Ballon d’Or winner ‘guarantees goals’ and will raise standards at United, he does not feel Ronaldo’s impact will be so great that he can propel them to the title – though they have a much better chance with him in the side.
‘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,’ Neville told Sky Sports on Saturday following Chelsea’s 1-1- draw with Liverpool.
‘I’m going to stick with that because I don’t think the Ronaldo signing makes them a better team than Chelsea, who were the Champions League winners last season, or Manchester City, who were 20 points clear.
‘Absolutely it brings them closer to winning the title, it will absolutely get them closer. But do I think it will win them the title at this point? No I don’t. But now I’m more excited about Manchester United challenging for the title than I was maybe five or six days ago.
‘I don’t think they will. I want them to. Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane will have the mentality to win United the title, there’s no doubt, but if I had to put my house on it now, do I think they’ll win the title this season? No. But I’m desperate for them to win the title. I’m just being pragmatic.
‘I think there’s an element that you have to be in for these players if you’re Manchester United. Whether that wins you the title or not, I’m unsure. It gives them a far better chance than they had 48 hours ago.
‘He isn’t coming for Champions League places. He’s coming for personal accolades and titles. There is no doubt about that. I hope that he can be the difference, because if he gets 10% out of every other player there’s a big chance. There’s a big chance.
‘The Premier League is at the highest standard it has been for a long, long time. It’s not an easy Premier League this one, it’s got back to the top level in Europe and I think Manchester United are up against really good sides.
‘In years gone by I might have said this Man United team will win the title by 10 points, but it’s such a strong Premier League this one.’
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