Signing Ronaldo disrupted us — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Cristiano Ronaldo for Manchester United || Image credit: Imago

Signing Ronaldo disrupted us — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Faruq Ibrahim 16:31 - 06.03.2024

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talks about the recruitment of Cristiano Ronaldo, and how it derailed their progress.

Former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shed light on Cristiano Ronaldo's struggles upon his return to the club, admitting that the move "didn't work out" as planned.

Ronaldo's Turbulent Return to Old Trafford

Ronaldo's highly anticipated return to Old Trafford from Juventus in 2021 was initially met with great enthusiasm and fanfare. However, what was expected to be a fairytale comeback quickly turned into a nightmare scenario as his stint ended in controversy.

Solskjaer revealed that Ronaldo's presence necessitated significant adjustments to the team's style of play, particularly in terms of pressing and positional roles. Despite his individual brilliance on the field, Ronaldo's passionate demeanour sometimes posed challenges for the team dynamic.

“Cristiano is different to Antony Martial who was up front, or whether we would play Mason [Greenwood] or Marcus [Rashford] upfront. 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,” he said, per the Daily Mail.

“With the ball, with him in the team, it was no problem. Without him [pressing], we had to change a little bit the different roles we'd gotten used to. We were one of the highest pressing teams before [Ronaldo joined]. We let Dan James go when Cristiano came in, and they're two different types of players.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Cristiano Ronaldo for Manchester United || Image credit: Imago
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Cristiano Ronaldo for Manchester United || Image credit: Imago

Solskjaer's Insights on Ronaldo's Influence

Speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, Solskjaer explained the complexities that arose from integrating Ronaldo into the squad. He highlighted the need to balance Ronaldo's desire for playing time with the development of younger players like Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.

“Part of signing Cristiano Ronaldo was getting that passion from him, but that did have its complications,” added Solskjaer.

“You've got Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, who can learn from Cristiano as he's the best, the most disciplined and he's been the best player in the world, and you think he's going to help them.”

“When he arrived at the club, he told me to start him for three games in a row, and then put me on the bench for the fourth game, but he's so passionate so when I did that, he didn't like it.”

Solskjaer - who was sacked in November 2021 after a run of poor results, just months after Ronaldo's return - admitted the move ultimately didn't work out, but insisted that it felt like 'the right decision at the time'. 

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