Paul Merson blames Cristiano Ronaldo for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking at Manchester United


Paul Merson believes Cristiano Ronaldo was the main reason behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking at Manchester United earlier in the season.

Ronaldo, 37, was signed by United last summer as the club looked to add the finishing touches to a squad being built for a Premier League title challenge.

However, having finished second last term, the Red Devils began the current campaign poorly with Ronaldo criticised for his lack of pressing up front and for causing disharmony in the squad after reportedly questioning Harry Maguire’s credentials as captain.

Solskjaer ended up with the sack in November after a 4-1 loss to Watford left United in seventh place in the Premier League and with just one win in seven games.

Former Arsenal winger Merson thinks Solskjaer would still be in a job if he refused to oversee Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford at the start of the season.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: ‘Cristiano Ronaldo is now 37. What’s happening at United will be driving him up the wall.

‘He’s been one of the greatest players of all time but he can’t now do what he used to. This league is relentless, it’s too hard. I’m not going to say, “I told you so”, but I could see this happening.

‘He got Solskjaer the sack, simple as that. They beat the record for the longest run of away games without a defeat and they played a certain way.’

Prior to Ronaldo re-joining United, Solskjaer’s team had gone the previous league season unbeaten away from home and defeated the record set by Arsenal’s Invincibles with 29 games.

Since then, the Portuguese’s comeback has coincided with a massive drop-off in form from the likes of Marcus Rashford who has been faced with less playing time and a reduced influence at the club.

Merson says that United should prioritise starting Rashford ahead of Ronaldo as the 24-year-old is the future and a player they cannot afford to lose.

He added: ‘Rangnick brought off Marcus Rashford at Everton when he was United’s best player because he didn’t want a repeat of what happened earlier in the season at Brentford.

‘I was at that game and it was embarrassing. He shouldn’t have to justify his decision as he’s the manager. At Ronaldo’s age, you can’t play every game. United need Rashford more than they need Ronaldo going forward.

‘The other week, they had Edinson Cavani alongside Ronaldo up front. It needs to stop sooner rather than later, otherwise this club is just going to fizzle out from being the biggest in the world. They won’t be for much longer at this rate.