Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opens up on Man Utd’s mistake of re-signing Cristiano Ronaldo

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted Manchester United had to change their way of playing after re-signing Cristiano Ronaldo in 2021.

The Red Devils finished second in the Premier League in 2020/21 and were tipped to make a leap into title contention having brought in Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and Raphael Varane from Real Madrid that summer.

Towards the end of the transfer window, they were presented with the chance to bring back club legend Ronaldo, who was keen to leave Juventus and had been linked with rivals Manchester City.

However, Ronaldo’s return coincided with an alarming dip in form and Solskjaer was sacked in November 2021, while United finished the season with their worst points total in the Premier League era.

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Speaking to Sky Bet’s Stick to Football show, Solskjaer discussed United’s decision to acquire Ronaldo, but how it proved to be to their detriment.

“It was a very quick decision [to sign Ronaldo]. We didn’t think Cristiano was available and that he was going to move. When it became apparent that he was leaving Juventus, obviously there were other clubs that wanted him – but I was excited,” Solskjaer said.

“They [United] asked me, ‘Would you want us to try this?’. I said yes. Obviously we know Cristiano is quality, and he’s 37, but we have to manage – he’’s the best goal scorer in the world. It didn’t work out for me, it didn’t work out for Cristiano, but it was the right decision at the time.

“We started off straight away thinking how we are going to press and change the little tweaks. Cristiano is different to Antony Martial who was up front, or whether we would play Mason [Greenwood] or Marcus [Rashford] up front. Edinson Cavani was the one that suffered the most when Cristiano came in – we’d played and got Edinson into a certain way of understanding the way we played.

“Cristiano, when you know him and speak to him, he wanted to play three out of four games, he realised he’s getting older as well. But when you leave him out once, he’s not happy!

“With the ball, with him in the team, it was no problem. Without him, we had to change a little bit the different roles we’d gotten used to. We were one of the highest pressing teams before. We let Dan James go when Cristiano came in, and they’re two different types of players. It was the right decision to make for me. It didn’t turn out to be the right one.”

Ronaldo left United in December 2022 by mutual consent after criticising the club and new manager Erik ten Hag in an interview with Piers Morgan. He then joined Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr on a free transfer.


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