Rob Dawson – ESPN
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he disagrees with Sir Alex Ferguson’s assessment that Cristiano Ronaldo should have started against Everton and that it is not the first time he has had a difference of opinion with his former manager.
Ferguson was caught on video telling former UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov “you should always start with your best players” after Solskjaer had decided to bench Ronaldo for the 1-1 draw with Rafael Benitez’s side at Old Trafford. The Norwegian, though, has backed his team selection.
“I’m quite relaxed about it but of course it’s not really fair on the gaffer that something like this gets broadcast,” Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday. “You always have opinions and you speak to people, you speak to people in confidence.
“I disagreed with the gaffer quite a few times and I told my wife quite a few times that I disagreed with him but that never made headlines as a player. “I’m sure Sir Alex knows that it doesn’t bother me. We all want to see Cristiano.
“We all want to, because he’s unique, he’s different, he’s had a career and everyone wants to come and watch him. But the plain fact of it is he cannot play every single game that we play, that’s just physical nature, human nature. But he knows how difficult this job is anyway, the gaffer.
“He didn’t always play the same XI. He took some risks at times to rest Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney or David Beckham, the best players that we had. Sometimes it works, sometimes it didn’t.”
Ronaldo came off the bench in the second half against Everton but could not prevent United dropping points. He appeared to shake his head as he walked down the tunnel after the final whistle, prompting Gary Neville to say he “didn’t like” his former teammate’s reaction.
Neville believes the clip of Ronaldo would only increase the pressure on Solskjaer after a run of just two wins from their last six games ahead of the trip to Leicester City on Saturday.
“I want my players to not be happy with a situation,” Solskjaer said. “I spoke to him before the game, spoke to him after the game and he was ready to come on when he was called upon.
“Unfortunately when we don’t win Cristiano is not happy and that’s a mindset that you want from every player. That’s absolutely no problem whatsoever.”
Solskjaer said he will have Marcus Rashford available for the first time this season after naming the England striker in his squad to face Leicester. Rashford hasn’t played since the Euro 2020 final after undergoing shoulder surgery and Solskjaer said the time is right for the 23-year-old to “prioritise” football.
“He has done remarkable things at a young age but he is now coming into the best age for a footballer and he is learning and getting more experienced,” Solskjaer said. “He has time to reflect on, you know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things and now to prioritise, maybe prioritise his football and focus on football because he’s got a challenge on his hands here at Man United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England, and I think Marcus is one of those who takes up those challenges and is going to.
“He is going to express himself and his talent and he knows that we want a lot from him but we are going to give him the time to get back to what he was and what he can be.”