Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo is currently making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The 37-year-old stormed down the tunnel against Tottenham on Wednesday night after refusing to come on. And, after this latest twist in the saga, it’s worth remembering that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer regrets ever bringing the Portugal international back to Old Trafford in the first place…
It wasn’t meant to be like this.
After Ronaldo left Manchester United for the sunny shores of Spain and Real Madrid back in 2009, fans were instantly clamouring for him to come back.
Having propelled the club to three Premier League titles, and consecutive Champions League finals, he is regarded as one of the best players to ever pull on their famous red and white colours.
Last summer, after 12 long years of waiting, United fans got their wish.
Ronaldo had looked set to leave Juventus for Manchester City, having been wooed by the prospect of challenging for the Premier League title year in, year out.
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But after interventions from Sir Alex Ferguson, Bruno Fernandes, Patrice Evra and Bruno Fernandes, he made a Hollywood homecoming to United instead.
Solskjaer was the man in charge of United at the time and it’s believed the Norwegian gave the green light to a deal.
But, earlier in the year, it emerged the 49-year-old ‘regretted’ his decision to land Ronaldo.
It was claimed the former United boss, who had been doing a solid and stay job in the dugout prior to the deal being struck, felt Ronaldo ‘did not fit’ with what he had been trying to implement.
The Red Devils had been building a young, attacking side full of speed prior to the Portugal international making his blockbuster return.
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, as well as Mason Greenwood, had been his preferred front three.
But Ronaldo coming back changed things. No longer blessed with the speed of old, he’s a static presence up top these days – even if his ability to score big goals remains unparalleled.
Solskjaer wasn’t willing to drop his star man.
He did do it once – in a 1-1 draw with Everton at Old Trafford – but such was the backlash he was reluctant to make the same decision again.
It didn’t help that Ferguson himself criticised the call in a chat with UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov, who said Solskjaer must always play his best players.
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Even as results worsened, and United lost the same attacking edge they’d previously had, Ronaldo stayed in the team.
But Ten Hag is a different type of manager and, now, it’s clear that Ronaldo won’t get everything his own way at the club.
His strop against Tottenham came just days after he’d sulked after being hooked in a goalless draw with Newcastle.
And Ronaldo is now very much the odd one out at United.
Ten Hag wants his players to be speedy and dynamic – something the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial tick all the boxes for.
And with Ronaldo’s days as a winger well and truly over, Antony and Jadon Sancho won’t be having too many sleepless nights.
Solskjaer regretted Ronaldo coming back. Ralf Rangnick, his temporary replacement, advocated on club chiefs to sell the veteran.
Now, Ten Hag seems to know what the duo suspected all along. Ronaldo just doesn’t fit United this time around and the sooner everybody parts ways, the better.
Next up for the Red Devils is a clash with Chelsea on Saturday (5.30pm).
Ronaldo won’t be involved, with Rashford primed to keep his place in Ten Hag’s starting XI instead.
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