When it became apparent Cristiano Ronaldo would leave Juventus, it looked as though he’d be playing his football under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. However, while the club insisted they pulled the plug on a deal before Manchester United burst onto the scene, it still speaks volumes that he’s happy to play under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Especially given how it was a choice between the Norwegian, Guardiola and Massimiliano Allegri.
Nearly three years after taking over from Jose Mourinho, we’re still learning about the man who replaced him.
When United announced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be in charge on an interim basis, Old Trafford roared again. Players and staff members, alike, were delighted with the appointment of the Norwegian.
The story goes that when Solskjaer was confirmed to be replacing Mourinho, his name was sung around at a Christmas do. Optimism arrived.
In the time since, the 48-year-old has rebuilt the club.
No more are duds such as Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku wearing their famous red colours. Instead, United now have a youthful team where everybody is pulling in the same direction.
Compare that to the dark final days of Mourinho’s era, where he retreated to his inner circle and blamed everybody else, and it represents quite a change.
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The Portugal international has already talked with the Red Devils boss, who also happened to be his team-mate at the club.
“Well, we had a chat, but of course I’m going to have time to speak with him face to face, to know what he expects,” he said.
“As you know, I played with him for two or three years at Manchester United so I have a good relationship with him but now with a different role, I’m a player and he’s a coach.
“But it doesn’t matter, my relationship with him is great and as I say before, I’m there in Manchester to help the team achieve his results and the coach can count on me for whatever he wants.
“So I’m available for everything.”
Ronaldo is available for everything, in his own words.
And the fact he’s chosen to play under Solskjaer, at this club, suggests he’s got belief in the Norwegian’s vision for the future.
Ronaldo wants to win. At the age of 36, he’s not slowing down.
And it’s curious to think he’s chosen to do this at United, a club who have gone four years without a trophy.
Playing under Guardiola at City would have undoubtedly boosted his chances of a fairytale ending to his career, even while making him a pantomime villain.
But when United got involved, Ronaldo was swayed.
Also, staying at Juventus would arguably have boosted his silverware prospects. After all, despite their recent fall from grace, they’re still serial winners.
Allegri, too, is a champion whose quest for more glory has seen him return to Turin for a second spell in the dugout.
But Ronaldo choosing United, choosing Solskjaer, makes it a huge endorsement.
Whether the 36-year-old’s choice is vindicated by the end of the campaign ultimately remains to be seen.