Football

Ronaldo will make 2nd United debut against Newcastle: Solskjaer

EPL
MANCHESTER UNITED NEWCASTLE UNITED

Cristiano Ronaldo will make his second debut for Manchester United when they host Newcastle United in the English Premier League on Saturday (Sept 11), manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said, but he did not confirm if the Portuguese forward would start.

Ronaldo rejoined United from Juventus on a two-year deal and will be looking to add to his 118 goals at the Old Trafford club where he won eight major trophies in six seasons.

Solskjaer said Ronaldo’s return had lifted the mood at United and the 36-year-old, who had “trained all week”, brought with him a “winner’s mentality".

 

 

“He’s been having a good pre-season with Juventus, played with the national team, had a good week with us. He’ll definitely be on the pitch at some point, that’s for sure,” Solskjaer told reporters on Friday.

“We’ve got mutual respect for each other, but he knows I’ve got to make the decisions when to play (him), when not to play. It’s my job to get the best out of him, that comes from communication. He doesn’t need me to tell him what to do.

“Everyone is going to look up to him and he is going to be a leader in this dressing room.”

Ronaldo will don the No. 7 shirt again at United and Solskjaer said its former owner, Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, had no qualms about handing it to the Portuguese forward.

“Edinson has been remarkable, played really well last season... To pass up his shirt shows the respect he’s got for Cristiano and respect the other way. Two top pros, players and human beings,” Solskjaer said.

Solskjaer believes Ronaldo will add a higher level of quality to the squad, both physically and mentally, as they look to win the first trophy of the Norwegian’s reign.

“We have grown as a group the last few years. The determination, the desire, the focus has improved over time and bit by bit,” he said.

“Even like bringing Raphael (Varane) in, he’s come in with a winner’s mentality, an unbelievable focus.

“Then of course Cristiano comes in as well and there’s no place to hide when you’ve got winners like them. You can’t go into training and give 95 per cent or not being focused.”

EMOTIONAL AFTERNOON

As a former Manchester United player, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce appreciates what an emotional afternoon it will be for Ronaldo and the club’s supporters on Saturday.

“The goals he’s scored at every club he’s played for is quite remarkable,” Bruce said.

“That, quite rightly in my opinion, makes him the best player in the world. It’s a terrific signing by Manchester United.

“It’s quite an incredible story of him going back and I’m sure they could have sold out Old Trafford 10 times over if they wished.”

NO FRED FOR UNITED

United will be without midfielder Fred who is banned after failing to turn up for Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers, which Solskjaer described as a “lose-lose situation”.

“The players want to play but we all know what kind of situation we find ourselves in the last year-and-a-half with the pandemic to limit the spread of the virus,” Solskjaer said.

“We’ve worked really hard to try and find a way – private jets, there are ways of getting them in and out – but all of the decisions have gone against the players who want to play for national teams and clubs but not allowed.

“(I’m) disappointed with the whole thing, common sense might not be common any more. Fingers crossed, some sense comes into people’s minds.” – AFP, REUTERS

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