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Cristiano Ronaldo saves Solskjaer as other ex-teammates begin to turn

Rio Ferdinand Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo hits injury time winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a last-gasp winner to the relief of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United beat Villarreal 2-1 in the Champions League.

Man United manager Solskjaer has had to bat off increasing criticism from former colleagues in recent days but there was one ex-teammate who he could rely on to get him out of jail.

Cristiano Ronaldo rescues Solskjaer.

The Red Devils put in a turgid performance at Old Trafford, conceding early in the second half, before Alex Telles cancelled out Paco Alcacer’s opener with a well-hit equaliser on the hour.

It seemed like the match was heading for a draw and had Ronaldo not popped up with his late winner, it would have been interesting to see the reaction after the final whistle.

Once the fans turn on a manager, it’s usually the beginning of the end and prominent Man United writer Andy Mitten had suggested earlier this week that some of the pro-Solskjaer supporters were now doubting their manager after a run of three defeats in four matches in all competitions.

Man United’s stuttering Champions League start.

Whether a 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal would have been met with a smattering of boos from the Old Trafford crowd, we’ll never know.

But after the defeat to Young Boys a fortnight ago, a share of the points would have seen United staring perilously at another stint in the Europa League or perhaps facing elimination from continental competition altogether.

Up until this season, Solskjaer’s former teammates had generally been slow to criticise him but after a summer in which Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho have all been added to the squad, it seems like expectations from the Norwegian’s old pals have gone up a notch.

solskjaer

Ex-teammates are circling.

Solskjaer has had to hit back at Rio Ferdinand on more than one occasion and earlier this week, it was Gary Neville who faced some backlash from the United boss.

“Gary knows what the DNA is here at the club, and what we are trying to do,” Solskjaer said after Neville seemed to call out his tactics following the defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend.

Paul Scholes has also cast doubt over Solskjaer’s chances of bringing silverware back to Old Trafford and there was a sense during the second half this evening that the manager might be reaching the “end game” stage of his spell in charge.

However, despite the noise from those with whom Solskjaer used to share a dressing room, United’s Portuguese hero showed just why Ole wanted to bring him back to the club this summer.

That boy Ronaldo, indeed.

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