Ole defends ‘correct’ decision to bench Ronaldo


Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defended his decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday.

Ronaldo has scored five goals since returning to Old Trafford, but was left on the bench against Rafael Benitez’s side along with Paul Pogba and Jadon Sancho.

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Ronaldo came on with United leading 1-0 thanks to Anthony Martial‘s goal, but were pegged back by Andros Townsend‘s equaliser.

Asked afterward whether it was the right decision to bench the Portuguese striker, Solskjaer insisted he had no regrets.

“You make decisions throughout a long, long season and you’ve got to manage the players’ workload and the decision was, for me, the correct one today,” Solskjaer said.

“Anthony Martial did well, scored a good goal, [Edinson] Cavani needed minutes, he got an hour, could have had a goal, a great cross and a great chance for him, we have to make those decisions sometimes.”

United have won just two of their past six games as they head into the international break and face a tricky run of games when the Premier League resumes.

Solskjaer’s team play Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City in their next four league matches as well as two make-or-break Champions League clashes with Italian side Atalanta.

“Every game is a big game at Man United so it’s a big month,” Solskjaer added.

“It has been a big month, a lot of changes have happened at the club in the last month, so we’ve just got to be focused, make sure we use the international break well, us as coaches, who stay at home, the other ones who go away with their national teams come back with energy again, clear focus, good mindset and do well.

“The mindset is good and players are hungry to improve. Today we dominated the game, we just couldn’t get that second goal you need in games like this as Everton, as we knew from last season, can score a goal from nowhere.”

United midfielder Bruno Fernandes also criticised the team’s second half display and said the players needed to start learning the lessons from repeat errors.

“I thought we played really well first half, created a lot of chances. Second half we slow it down, once again we make that mistake,” he told MUTV. “We have to learn and the time is now. We cannot do it anymore.

“We did it so many times. We cannot slow it down when we are winning. We have to make it quicker, score another one or two and then after that you can slow it down a little and make them run more.”

Fernandes, captaining the side in the absence of Harry Maguire, said another bad habit that needed addressing was conceding from counterattacks.

Everton’s equalising goal came from a break after a United corner taken by Fernandes.

“We should learn because that is not the first time it has happened, we have to do something, change something because something is not working to concede so many counters.

“That is about the players on the pitch doing something, not about someone else. We have to make a foul, stop the game, I have to take a better corner, many, many things have to be better.

“It is not good enough, we should have more points, but this is what we have now. We have to look forward now to what we can do until the end of the season.”

Information from Reuters was included in this report.

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