Ole gives Ronaldo update before Newcastle game
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo will make his second debut for Manchester United in Saturday’s Premier League game against Newcastle United.
With his return to United becoming official over the international break, the 36-year-old arrived at Carrington earlier this week before training with his new team-mates for the first time.
And with a week of work under his belt, Ronaldo will be ready to play some part in the game, which gets under way at 15:00 BST, according to Solskjaer.
“He’s been having a good pre-season with Juventus, he’s played for the national team, he’s had a good week with us here. He’ll definitely be on the pitch at some point, that’s for sure,” he told reporters during his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon.
“He’s been good [in training]. Of course, we’ve followed his career from afar since he left here and everyone’s very happy to have him back.
“He can speak for himself, but it seems like he’s happy to be back as well. The mood has been very good, he’s worked well and we’re looking forward to Saturday of course."
The Portuguese now returns having evolved into a different player to the one that left United in that summer of 2009, and it is an adaptation that Solskjaer has praised the five-time Ballon D'Or winner for.
“Cristiano is a different player to the one who left but he’s in such good nick still, he’ll be looking at the next few years to play as much as he can, score as much as he can,” he said.
“As age goes by you have to change your game. I don’t think you’re going to see 20 stepovers before he goes past you, but he still has that shift and shoot.
“He’s developed into one of the most accurate finishers that I’ve seen. I did see part of that when he was here, of course, but what he’s developed in these years at Real Madrid impresses us all," he added.
“He’s one of the best in the air, his timing and headers are second to none. He still hits the target 99 times out of 100 as well. He knows the game more, he knows which positions to drop into and when to run in behind and he’s still as quick it looks like from the stats, and he’s a shining leading star, everyone’s going to look up to him.”
Another thing that has of course changed in that time is the Norwegian’s relationship with Ronaldo, as he has made the transition from team-mate, to manager.
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“We’ve got mutual respect for each other, you cannot not have respect for what he’s achieved but he knows I have to make the decisions, when to play him, when not to.
“Any player wants to play as much as possible but it’s my job to manage him and get the best out of him. That comes with communication with him because we have played together at the club, and we know each other.
“He doesn’t need me to tell him what to do, he’s always had this determination, this desire to be the best.
“Of course we’ve [had] Ryan Giggs who played until 40-odd and I’m not going to be surprised if Cristiano ends up at the same age as Ryan.”