Ronaldo is delivering for Man Utd – now Solskjaer must do the same

Cristiano Ronaldo has been in the spotlight despite doing all that is asked of him at Manchester United; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has nowhere left to hide with the Portuguese leading the line

Solskjaer previews Man Utd v Liverpool in Premier League

Pull up a chair, I’m going to tell you a little story about Cristiano Ronaldo.

My lad Jacob is a huge football fan, obviously, and he used to have pictures of all the great players on his wall. Naturally, Ronaldo was one of them.

When Liverpool played Madrid I took him to the game, and we found ourselves by their team bus, standing there with a bunch of other fans.

Cristiano came over, made a fuss of him, then he put his arm around Jacob and took him onto the bus to meet all the other players, get autographs, that sort of thing. It made my gob-smacked son’s day…year even!

Now, I’m not saying he does that for every young kid out there, and of course he’d have remembered me from his first days in English football, when he was an ambitious youngster himself, and I was (even though I say so myself!) at the top of the game.

Is Cristiano Ronaldo the best player in the Premier League? Have your say in the comments.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been in the spotlight despite scoring six goals in eight games


Peter Powell/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Maybe my picture was on his wall…though I somehow doubt it, even with my (check notes) errr, let’s say old fashioned cinema good looks. But the point is, he went out of his way with a kindness and generosity of spirit that said so much about him.

And for me, that makes him stand out. He’s been at the top of the world game for what, 16, 17 years now, and he can still find time to make a fuss of the son of someone he played against 15 years ago. Maybe these unconventional good looks made a mark!

I take people on how they treat me, and so naturally, I’m going to defend Cristiano…though I have to say, regardless of that some of the criticism he’s received, and some of the noise around his role in the Manchester United team, has been ridiculous and baffling.

Look. He’s not the player he was. He hasn’t been for a few years now. But what we’re saying here is, he’s not quite at the level of being one of the greatest of all time. We’re saying he’s not quite performing as one of the five best players in football history.

But he’s still producing. Not just for United, but for Portugal – and look at the number of hugely important goals he’s still scoring for them in the final minutes of games. That’s the mark of someone who is still massively influential.

There’s this noise about the shape of the United team being thrown out by his presence, criticism that he doesn’t fit it, needs others to do the work for him. Yada yada yada.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored yet another vital goal against Atalanta


Manchester United via Getty Images)

He was brought in to score goals, and he’s done that. Clearly, United thought it was a need they had, despite having Edinson Cavani on the books – and I suspect they tried to offload him in the summer, but couldn’t find anyone to take his wages.

I get that he probably wasn’t Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first choice, I get that maybe United’s primary motivation was to stop Cristiano going to Manchester City…and that was wise, because if he’d gone there, they’d have run away with the title again, I have absolutely no doubt about that.

Why? Because he scores goals. He’s got more than Cavani would, and no one criticised Cavani last season when he was asked to do the same role. I’d argue too, that this criticism he’s failing to gel with the team – well, you can say the same about Jadon Sancho.

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Jadon Sancho has evaded criticism despite his underwhelming start at Old Trafford


Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

No one is saying Sancho has thrown the team out though, are they? No one is saying they shouldn’t have signed him, and they’d be better off without him.

Sancho hasn’t done it so far, because he needs to settle into a new team, a new style. But Ronaldo has done it. He’s delivered, and it’s up to the rest of the team to deliver too.

That’s the manager’s job, and maybe Ole hasn’t delivered in that regard yet. United have got results this season, but they are a million miles behind City and Liverpool at the minute.

Should Cristiano Ronaldo lead the line for Manchester United against Liverpool? Pick your starting XI below!

They’re only one win behind City, but the football has been far from convincing, and really, they’ve only beaten teams who were struggling at the time. Is that Ronaldo’s fault? No. It’s the manager’s job to sort that out.

I’m not saying he should lose his job like so many people are saying – far from it. But he’s going to lose his job eventually, because it’s inevitable…death, taxes and football managers being sacked.

We’ve said for some years now, United needed three players to challenge the others. Now they’ve got them. So Ole deserves a bit of time to settle in Cristiano, Sancho and Varane. And produce a compelling team.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserves to see out this season at the very least


Getty Images)

Give him this year, let’s see how he deals with fitting them in, how he makes the most of their talents.

I’ve heard people saying Ronaldo is a luxury player United can’t afford, but in my experience managers like luxury players because they deliver – that’s why they’re a luxury, and not a water carrier.

Cristiano has delivered, now it’s time for Ole to do the same, because he’s been given the players, and there are no excuses.

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