Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Man Utd 'turned out wrong' as he opens up on disastrous end to his tenure

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 2021-22Getty Images
  • Solskjaer accepts Ronaldo transfer mistake
  • Had a dream start at Old Trafford
  • Left the club in November 2022

WHAT HAPPENED? Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford in the summer of 2021 - 12 years after his initial departure to Real Madrid - while Solskjaer was in charge of United. The Portuguese hit the ground running, scoring twice in his homecoming appearance against Newcastle, but United's form gradually took a turn for the worst, and Solskjaer was sacked from his post just four months into the 2021-22 season. The Norwegian boss has now admitted that his decision to re-sign Ronaldo turned out to be a mistake, while explaining the circumstances that led to the disastrous end to his tenure.

WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking to The Athletic, Solskjaer said: "It was a decision that was very difficult to turn down and I felt we had to take it, but it turned out wrong. 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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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ronaldo netted 24 times and provided three assists in 38 appearances in his first season back at United, but couldn't prevent them from posting their worst-ever Premier League points total. Erik ten Hag was then drafted in to succeed Solskjaer, but dropped Ronaldo in the early stages of the 2022-23 campaign. The Portugal striker stirred up controversy with his conduct on and off the pitch as he vented his frustration over a lack of regular minutes, and after an ill-advised interview with Piers Morgan which saw him criticise Ten Hag and his team-mates, his contract was terminated by mutual agreement. Ronaldo went on to join Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, sparking an exodus of top European talent to the Middle East.


Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 2022-23Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2022-23Getty Images

WHAT NEXT? Ten Hag's side, who have won just twice in their first five Premier League games, next take on Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday. Ronaldo, meanwhile, will be back in Saudi Pro League action for Al-Nassr against Al-Ahli Saudi on Friday.