Ex-Man Utd boss Solskjaer admits signing Ronaldo was ‘wrong’ and reveals ‘disease’ at club

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

Former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits the club’s decision to sign Cristiano Ronaldo was the “wrong” one despite it feeling “so right”.

The Red Devils signed Ronaldo from Juventus in August 2021 with the Portugal international scoring 24 goals in 38 matches in all competitions.

However, there were always rumblings of discontent with his situation and it came to a head in November the following year when Ronaldo gave a controversial interview to Piers Morgan.

Man Utd agreed to mutually terminate his contract that month with Ronaldo later moving to Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr before the Red Devils replaced him with loan signing Wout Weghorst in January.

And, despite his strong start on his return to Old Trafford, Solskjaer thinks Man Utd got the decision to re-sign Ronaldo “wrong” with the group of player failing to “pull in the same direction”.

“It was a decision that was very difficult to turn down and I felt we had to take it, but it turned out wrong,” Solskjaer told The Athletic of Ronaldo’s return.

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“It felt so right when he signed and the fans felt that at that Newcastle game, when Old Trafford was rocking [Ronaldo scored twice in a 4-1 win].

“He was still one of the best goalscorers in the world, he was looking strong.

“When I looked at the fixtures it was going to be a deciding period: Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham away, and Leicester away. Then Chelsea and Arsenal, plus Champions League games.

“Things went against us. It started with Aston Villa at home [a 1-0 defeat] and a late penalty miss [by Bruno Fernandes].

“When you have a group you need everyone to pull in the same direction. When things didn’t go right, you could see certain players and egos came out.

“We beat Tottenham convincingly 3-0 away, but then we lost two games…”

Solskjaer was sacked by Man Utd in November 2021 with former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick put in a caretaker role of the club and the German couldn’t believe the state of the club.

“The club he found in November 2021 was different from September 2021,” Solskjaer added.

“I told him when I gave my opinion on every player. Things had soured, the collective had been lost and that’s not Man United, where teams are built on the collective.

“Some players felt they should’ve played more and weren’t constructive to the environment. That’s a huge win for me. When I didn’t start games, I wanted to prove to the manager he’d made the wrong decision.

“Now, a lot of players aren’t like that. Agents and family members get into their heads and tell them they’re better than they are because they have a vested interest. It’s a disease of modern football.”