Cristiano Ronaldo has backed Manchester United to win the Premier League title once more - but not this season.
The Red Devils are currently in the midst of a huge overhaul under new boss Louis van Gaal. Six new players arrived over the summer for around £150 million and they currently sit in 8th place ahead of their clash against Chelsea this afternoon.
It's been a tough start for Van Gaal, who failed to record a win in his first three league games in charge and watched his side crash out of the Capital One Cup at the hands of lowly MK Dons. The Red Devils appeared to have turned a corner with back-to-back wins over West Ham and Everton which took them up to fourth in the league, but last Monday's 2-2 draw with West Brom was a setback.
Despite their inconsistencies Ronaldo believes Manchester United have what it takes to get back to the top of the table under Van Gaal, although doing so this season may be a stretch too far. As things stand the 2012 champions are 10 points behind league leaders Chelsea, and could fall further behind Jose Mourinho's side if they fall to defeat at Old Trafford.
"He is a fantastic coach and very experienced and I am certain he will make Manchester United champions again, if not this year then very soon after that." - Cristiano Ronaldo
"Sometimes the coaches need time to change the team to what they want,’ said the Real Madrid ace. ‘In the Premier League all the teams are fighting a lot for points and even the clubs at the bottom of the table can beat those at the top. So it is tough.
‘I read something recently from Sir Alex Ferguson saying Van Gaal will need time and he is right. In the beginning even Sir Alex didn’t win anything for a few years and it was a complicated time for him while he got the team together that he wanted.
‘To get a good squad and a good team takes time so lets give Van Gaal the time he needs. He is a fantastic coach and very experienced and I am certain he will make Manchester United champions again, if not this year then very soon after that.’
Ronaldo also had words of praise for Angel di Maria, who joined Manchester United from Real Madrid over the summer for a British record fee of £59.7 million. The pair shared a strong relationship at the Bernabeu, and the Portuguese star believes his friend can thrive at Old Trafford.
"To change Spain for England is always going to be a big difference because the weather is not the same in Manchester as it is in Madrid. It's colder, often raining and always cloudy,’ said the former Manchester United player.
‘Of course it is going to be a big, big challenge for him but I am 100% sure he will be a massive success at United. He will enjoy it I know.
‘It’s great that he might be fit to play Chelsea because Angel was always an important player for Real Madrid in the big games – he always rises to the occasion.’
Ronaldo was on the scoresheet as Real Madrid romped to a 3-1 win over Barcelona in El Clasico last night. The victory means Los Blancos move within one point of their Catalan rivals at the top of the table.