Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United was the ‘wrong’ decision for the club.
Ronaldo re-signed for Manchester United from Juventus in 2021, returning to the Red Devils 12 years after he had left the club in a then-world record deal for Real Madrid.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner scored 24 goals in all competitions during his first season back at the club, but problems soon surfaced and he departed in acrimonious circumstances after a controversial – and unsanctioned – interview in which he criticised manager Erik ten Hag.
Solskjaer – who played alongside Ronaldo during the forward’s first spell – had brought the the Portugal international back to the club, before he was sacked as manager in November 2021 after a poor run of form.
The Norwegian has now admitted that Ronaldo’s return was the wrong decision for the long-term project.
“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 said in an interview with The Athletic.
“It felt so right when he signed and the fans felt that at that Newcastle game, when Old Trafford was rocking (after 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, 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.
“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…”
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