Man Utd: Solskjaer reveals biggest ‘problem’ managing Ronaldo and admits transfer was a mistake

Joe Williams
Man Utd duo Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Cristiano Ronaldo
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Cristiano Ronaldo after a Premier League match.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits signing Cristiano Ronaldo during his time as Man Utd boss “didn’t turn out to be the right” decision for the club.

The Red Devils brought Ronaldo back to Old Trafford in August 2021 in a deal that was welcomed by the majority of the fanbase with the Portugal superstar expected to help Man Utd back to the top of the English game.

And it definitely proved to be a mistake for Solskjaer with the Norwegian sacked within three months of Ronaldo’s arrival at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo managed to score 24 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions for Man Utd in his first season, although there were claims that the Red Devils played better without him in the team.

In his second season, Ronaldo scored just one Premier League goal in ten appearances before a controversial interview with Piers Morgan saw the Man Utd board mutually terminate his contract as he moved to Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr in December 2022.

“It was a very quick decision [to sign Ronaldo],” Solskjaer said on the Stick to Football show. “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.

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“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.”