Is Ole Gunnar Solskjær Taking a Gamble by Not Playing Cristiano Ronaldo in Every Man Utd Game?
18:20 GMT 04.10.2021 (Updated: 11:43 GMT 10.12.2022)
Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo rejoined Manchester United amid much fanfare last month. Ronaldo's homecoming to Old Trafford, a place where he first made a name for himself in 2003-2009, has been quite impressive. He scored in his initial three games before taking them to a crucial win over Villarreal in Champions League last week.
Manchester United Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær has decided not to pick talismanic striker Cristiano Ronaldo for every game that his side would play in various football tournaments, including the Premier League competition and the Champions League.
Solskjær's decision of not fielding CR7 in all United games has resulted in some unexpected defeats for the club, leading to a barrage of criticism from the team's supporters.
The Norwegian's tactics have not only infuriated Utd's loyal fans, but his moves have been panned by former footballers, too.
According to them, Solskjær's plot of keeping Ronaldo on the sidelines, when arguably the world's best player is available to play for them in each match, has cost them dearly in the current season.
After an encouraging start to the season, United lost in three different events, besides being eliminated from the Carabao Cup before Ronaldo rejoined the playing XI and delivered a stunning rescue act. He executed an excellent 95th minute strike in their 2-1 triumph over Villarreal in Europe's premier club tournament on Thursday.
Despite Ronaldo's sensational display, Solskjær made the mistake of resting Ronaldo against Everton on Saturday, which again reflected in a poor showing by the remaining United players as the match finished in a miserable 1-1 draw for the former English champions.
And his decision didn't go down well with ex-Aston Villa forward Gabby Agbonlahor, who called it a "sackable offense".
"It was a sackable offence not to start Ronaldo from Solskjaer. You look at Manchester United, you are playing Everton. Everton has been in good form this season. You need your strongest team to go out there and beat Everton," he said after the 48-year-old manager defended his decision.
Even former India midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi was furious with Solskjær. He went as far as declaring him as a "mad guy" who drops one of the greatest footballers of all-time from his team.
"The United manager is mad! How can you not play a player of Ronaldo's stature. Isn't it crazy to even think about benching him, when the whole world wants to see him play?" Nabi asked Sputnik on Monday.
Ronaldo is hugely popular among his United teammates, with almost everyone rating him highly. For some, including Marcus Rashford, he's even a role model, and his absence seems to have had a negative impact on them.
Nabi supported the above argument as he acknowledged that it is actually quite hard to keep Ronaldo out of your mind, whether he's your opponent or colleague.
"Ronaldo should always feature in the eleven because his presence puts extra pressure on the opposition players, while he acts as mentor to young players in his own team. From maintaining his fitness to scoring goals, he leads by example and that's why United's players look up to him in moments of crisis," Nabi added.