Manchester United re-signed Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus at the end of the summer transfer window, which is a reunion that has been suggested since the summer of 2013 – but never happened, until now. It is something that would have been great for United post-Sir Alex Ferguson too.
However, now that it has been done, a United legend and former teammate of Ronaldo has heaped pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggesting that the re-signing of the 36-year-old will either be make or break for him. It is not something that was said maliciously – but because people will turn on the manager even more if it fails.
The 46-year-old, who now works as a pundit and commentator for Sky Sports, amongst other things, recently spoke to BBC 5 Live about Solskjaer re-signing Ronaldo and he said:
“There is no doubt Ronaldo is a make or break signing for Ole.”
Of course, with that being said, without more context, there is going to be a massive number of criticism articles based on so few words. I think Solskjaer knows that Ronaldo returning to the club, even at 36 is a big deal and he knows that if everything starts to go down the pan, he will be responsible.
Ronaldo has made a fine start to live back in Manchester, scoring a brace on his second debut at the club against Newcastle United in the Premier League, in which United won the match 4-1. He also scored in the opening UEFA Champions League group stage match against Young Boys, despite United falling to a 2-1 defeat. On Sunday, he scored his fourth goal since he return to United, helping the club beat West Ham United 2-1 in the Premier League.
Ronaldo looks set to miss the Carabao Cup third round match with the Hammers on Wednesday evening, but will be fresh for the visit of Aston Villa to the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday afternoon, in which the match has been brought forward from the original 3pm BST kick off, now being played at 12:30 BST – the same time as Chelsea host Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
There is much for United to achieve under Solskjaer and despite the moaning about defeats or draws, the people doing the moaning do not seem t be saying much when United win, which has happened in five of the six matches played this season. It gives the suggestion that some of these critics on social media are hell bent on watching Solskjaer fail at United – just so they can say they were right – strange, right?
Solskjaer has done well at United thus far – aiming to clear the dead wood at the club, which is a work in progress but something the manager has started to achieve in doing. He also has brought in many of his own players, who have largely done well – despite criticisms on some of their performances, because some people seem to forget that footballers are no robots or the pixels they compare on the FIFA video games.
Neville has a point in what he has said and there is no way that he would set out to negatively affect United but only say what he has been feeling. So far, Ronaldo’s return to the Theatre of Dreams has been largely positive and when he failed to score or assist, of even show promise in a match, the critics will be out in force to earn some money from criticism, never mind how reactionary it might be.
United are on the right path to success. Solskjaer needs to win a trophy to kickstart his time at the helm of the Old Trafford club. He has been backed this summer in the signing of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Ronaldo, although the club could have done more to help him get rid of some of the players he wanted rid of.
This could have allowed him to strengthen in a few more key areas, especially the defensive midfield position. If United had gone into this season with this area of the squad covered, they could have gone full speed into challenging for the Premier League title.
Rotation will become key this season and Solskjaer will need to keep the lies of Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay fresh, as they are the main players who will excel in the defensive midfield area. Fred has little worth to United and does not seem to fit into United plans moving forward, which is a shame as they will not recoup anything near the money paid for him in the summer of 2018.
Written by John Walker