- Solskjaer was fired by Man United three months after Ronaldo’s return
- He admits re-signing the star was ‘difficult to turn down’ but ‘turned out wrong’
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off!
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted ‘it was very difficult to turn down’ the chance to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Manchester United – but the decision ‘turned out wrong’ as ‘egos’ lost him the job.
The Portuguese star returned for a second spell at Old Trafford amid enormous hype in August 2021 but Solskjaer was fired as manager just three months later.
It was widely believed at the time that Ronaldo, who cost £12.85million from Juventus, was signed at the behest of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward without Solskjaer’s input.
The Norwegian coach had to fit Ronaldo into his side, though the forward performed well during his first season back, scoring 24 times.
Solskjaer, who hasn’t taken another management job in almost two years since his dismissal, said egos came to the fore during a disastrous run of results that cost him his position.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted the decision to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Manchester United ‘turned out wrong’ after he was sacked three months after the star’s return
Solskjaer was sacked following a dismal 4-1 defeat at Watford in November 2021
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‘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 told The Athletic of Ronaldo’s return.
‘It felt so right when he signed and the fans felt that at that Newcastle game, when Old Trafford was rocking [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 away, 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 [by Bruno Fernandes].
‘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…’
A 2-0 home defeat to Manchester City in which United were completely outclassed and a miserable 4-1 loss at Watford in which Harry Maguire was sent off sealed Solskjaer’s fate.
Ralf Rangnick took over as interim manager for the remainder of that 2021-22 season and was astonished at what he found.
Ronaldo made a sensational return when he scored twice against Newcastle in September
He also scored crucial late goals in the Champions League against Villarreal and Atalanta
But things quickly went downhill during a torrid run of results that led to Solskjaer’s sacking
‘The club he found in November 2021 was different from September 2021,’ Solskjaer added.
‘I told him when I gave my opinion on every player. Things had soured, the collective had been lost and that’s not Man United, where teams are built on the collective.
‘Some players felt they should’ve played more and weren’t constructive to the environment. That’s a huge win for me. When I didn’t start games, I wanted to prove to the manager he’d made the wrong decision.
‘Now, a lot of players aren’t like that. Agents and family members get into their heads and tell them they’re better than they are because they have a vested interest. It’s a disease of modern football.’
Solskjaer revealed that some players rejected the opportunity to be United’s captain.
‘Some weren’t as good as their own perception of themselves. I won’t name names, but I was disappointed when a couple turned down the chance to be captain,’ he said.
‘I was also disappointed when others said they wouldn’t play or train because they wanted to force their way out.’