If you had to compare Manchester United to an equivalent US sports team, most would settle on the Dallas Cowboys. Unbelievable support, a money-making machine in terms of marketing and perhaps the most famous name in their respective sport. The other thing, however, that the two teams have had declining fortunes of late. Yes, the Cowboys have had a much longer drought, with a 23-year Super Bowl hiatus, but United have had their issues in the last few years, not winning a Premier League or Champions League since their legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

United have qualified for the Champions League this season, with competition beginning a couple of days from now. The usual suspects lead the betting odds with Paddy Power, with Manchester City (9/2), Barcelona (6/1) and Real Madrid (17/2) among the top picks. Of course, any of those three sides would be an unsurprising winner, as too would Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus (13/2).

United worth a shot to nothing with free bet

However, the big betting value comes in with United, a cool 20/1 for the Champions League, in a market that can be even more lucrative if you use a free bet welcome offer for the Paddy Power App.  Naysayers will say that United are a declining force in Europe (they exited at the last 16 stage last season), but there are some arguments to be made in United’s favour.

First of all, there is the manager, Jose Mourinho. A winner of the Champions League twice, both times with teams regarded as underdogs, Mourinho has been criticised for a lack of tactical nous at Manchester United. To be frank, that’s rubbish. He has not delivered on some promises, sure. But there is still no better coach for tactically managing on a game by game basis.

Mourinho won tactically against rivals last season

Want proof? Look how he set United up away to Champions League favourites Manchester City last season, a 3-2 win for United. Look how he outsmarted Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in a 2-1 victory a few weeks earlier. Those qualities, individual game management are perfect for knockout tournaments like the Champions League. It’s part of the reason Mourinho has won the League Cup, Europa League and led United to an FA Cup final in just two seasons at the club.

Secondly, there is the personnel at the club. Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku would make a claim to be in any starting line up in world football. Of course, the problem is that they are not playing well as a unit – yet. Great players get it right eventually. Even in the early games of the Premier League this season, there are some green shoots that suggest the big boys at the club are starting to gel.

Lukaku becoming a leader at Old Trafford

Lukaku, especially, looks like a future leader of the club. He has started the season with a bang, netting four goals in five games in the Premier League – a great shout for top scorer at the end of the season with 8/1 odds.

If your team is not called Real Madrid, it seems to be notoriously difficult to win the Champions League. Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain, for all their riches, haven’t been able to do it yet. Jose Mourinho has done it twice with teams that were not expected to win, with teams that beat the odds. If he can forge this talented collection of Manchester United players in the mould of Porto (2004) or Inter Milan (2010), we may get a similar outcome.