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Solskjaer says Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United created problems in dressing room

Former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solsjaer has admitted Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to the club created problems in the dressing room. 

The 39-year-old looked close to joining Manchester City before United sealed a £12 million deal to sign him from Juventus in 2021. 

The Portuguese scored an impressive 24 goals in 39 appearances during his first campaign at Old Trafford. 

But he struggled for game time the following season and eventually mutually terminated his contract to join Saudi Pro League club Al-Nassr in January 2023. 

Solskjaer, who was sacked just three months after Ronaldo’s arrival, insists he doesn’t regret signing him but conceded his return created problems in the dressing room. 

He told Stick to Football podcast: “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 [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. It was the right decision to make for me – it didn’t turn out to be the right one.

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

“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.”

Right decision to let Ronaldo leave 

Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. However, his best years were behind him when he returned to United in 2021. 

His finishing ability was still world-class, but his lack of pressing was a huge problem. 

Manager Erik ten Hag made the correct decision to let him leave in the middle of the 2022/23 season. 

The decision was made after the Portugal international’s controversial interview with Piers Morgan where he criticised his manager, the Glazers and former teammates.

Ten Hag showed there are certain limits that no one can cross, even if they are the world’s best players.