Manchester United Do Better Without Cristiano Ronaldo

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The World Cup break seems to have done Manchester United the world of good. Since the return, and now without Cristiano Ronaldo, they have a 100% record and have yet to concede a goal.

The Red Devils are rampant right now and don’t seem to be missing the newly-crowned highest-paid footballer in the world. Since the break, they have advanced in the FA Cup and won three Premier League games.

The goals have been flowing, too, with a record of nine goals for and zero against over the four games since the World Cup.

Two against Burnley, three against Nottingham Forest, one against Wolves and three against Bournemouth.

Title candidates?

With four wins from their last five in the Premier League, Manchester United are climbing their way up the table and we might be able to start talking about them as title candidates.

Erik Ten Hag’s team remain nine points behind leaders Arsenal, but just one off second-placed Manchester City as things stand.

Arsenal remain in the driving seat, of course, but with the league not even at its halfway stage, it’s too early to rule anything out.

Manchester United are currently fourth, but have a game in hand over third-placed Newcastle who also have 35 points, but a far superior goal difference.

“Belief is growing and that’s a good sign, it’s good to have that feeling but we have to understand and be able to give 100 per cent in every game – 100 per cent energy, 100 per cent focus, 100 per cent playing as a team,” Ten Hag told reporters after the game.

“If you keep that philosophy it’s possible but we have to go game to game and don’t think too far ahead. It’s now January so it’s not even half a season we are talking about.”

Critics back Ten Hag

While some previously doubted his treatment of Cristiano Ronaldo, critics are now being forced to unite in saying the Dutch coach got it right. The positive vibes around Old Trafford now are no coincidence.

“This is a tricky one to call because Wolves will be full of confidence after their last-gasp win over Everton in Julen Lopetegui’s first game in charge,” Chris Sutton told the BBC ahead of Man United’s win over Wolves last week.

“They will have a real go at Manchester United but I think the progress Erik ten Hag’s side have made means they will be able to deal with that.

“United were dominant in their win over Nottingham Forest and we are starting to see them play the way Ten Hag wants them to.

“It definitely helps that no-one is talking about Cristiano Ronaldo any more, and whether the team is better off with or without him.

“He has gone and, although it’s a bit early to say the club is more in harmony now, the team are certainly playing that way.”

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