Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to use Cristiano Ronaldo as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Everton has been criticized by the Manchester United manager’s own mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ronaldo remained on the bench until the 57th minute. United were leading 1-0 when he came into play, but Everton scored the equalizing goal via Andros Townsend as United’s recent indifferent form continued.
In a video posted to Twitter, Ferguson, who was instrumental in bringing Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, is heard to question Solskjaer’s squad selection.
Filmed during a conversation with former mixed martial arts champion and United fan Khabib Nurmagomedov in the executive lounge at Old Trafford after the Premier League game, Ferguson seems to suggest that Ronaldo should have started.
“I also think when they saw that Ronaldo wasn’t playing…” Ferguson says. He is then interrupted by the Russian, who points out, “He came on in the second half.” Ferguson follows up on that by saying, “Of course. But I also think that when they [Everton] saw that Ronaldo was not playing…”
United have won one of their last four games, when Ronaldo scored a late winner in the Champions League against Villarreal last week. Questions have been raised about Solskjær’s lasting suitability as a successor to Ferguson, who led the club to 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League wins.
A player under Ferguson from 1996 to 2007 and United’s manager since December 2018, Solskjær has played great in his relationship with his former boss, often harking back to working under the Scot, 79, and now a director and club ambassador. So far, he has failed to lift a trophy, as United lost last season in the Europa League final to Villarreal on penalties.
Mike Phelan, Ferguson’s assistant in his later years, has since been given a new deal until June 2024, the length of his contract matching that of Solskjær, who signed a similar extension in July.
Phelan returned to the club to team up with Solskjær when the Norwegian replaced Jose Mourinho, initially as an interim contract before the position became permanent later in the 2018-19 season.
Handing Phelan over that deal suggests the Glazer family is happy with the current management structure, despite recent results. Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, has scored five goals in six games since returning to the club where he first played from 2003 to 2009.