Solskjaer to ‘manage’ Ronaldo’s minutes to maintain impact

Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is wary he will have to manage Cristiano Ronaldo’s minutes to keep the 36-year-old performing at the level that has seen him score five times in as many games since returning to Manchester United.

Ronaldo scored in the 95th minute to secure a 2-1 victory over Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday and ease the pressure slightly on Solskjaer after a run of three defeats in four games.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner tore off his shirt in celebration to reveal his chiselled physique and Solskjaer hailed the Portuguese’s professionalism as an example to other members of his squad.

But the Norwegian acknowledged he will not be able to rely on Ronaldo all the time. 

“He’s had a great impact on and off the pitch in how professional he is,” Solskjaer said. “Of course there’s the goals — five goals in five games says everything.

“At his age, he’s still fit. Of course we’ve got to manage him, got to make sure he can keep going with his form. He’s a very good example for everyone in how he prepares, how he conducts himself.

“It’s been a very, very good impact so far and it’s only been a month so long may it continue.”

United are back in action at Old Trafford again on Saturday, less than three days after their European exertions and Solskjaer is not happy with the schedule that sees them kick-off at lunchtime, while Liverpool and Manchester City square off on Sunday afternoon.

“We had no explanation, but it’s TV of course. There’s no common sense at all. We had the same scenario last season,” added Solskjaer.

“Us and Chelsea both played on Wednesday and could have easily played on Sunday while City-Liverpool could have been on Saturday. Common sense might not be so common.”

The United boss is already spoiled for options in attack and could soon have another star to choose from as Marcus Rashford nears his return from shoulder surgery.

Rashford has not featured for club or country since England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

“Marcus trained fully for the first time today with contact,” said Solskjaer.

“There were a few tackles flying in on him but he seemed OK, which was nice to see.”

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