Fernando Santos aims dig at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Portugal manager Fernando Santos appears to have taken a subtle swipe at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer over the Manchester United manager’s handling of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Santos has been managing Ronaldo at international level since 2014, a period in which the forward has scored 61 of his world record 111 international goals, so it’s fair to say that he knows the player well.
Fernando Santos keen to give Cristiano Ronaldo minutes.
The same could be said of Solskjaer, who played with Ronaldo during the latter’s previous spell at Old Trafford, but Santos feels that the Norwegian hasn’t used the five-time Ballon d’Or winner well since returning to the club.
Portugal take on Qatar in a friendly in Faro on Saturday evening and while Solskjaer may have hoped that Ronaldo would sit the game out, Santos feels it is important to give him minutes that he may have lacked since his Man United homecoming.
“He will play the game against Qatar because he needs playing time. It’s important to him at this stage,” Santos said.
“The last full game he played was in the Champions League (against Villarreal on September 29th). If he only plays against Luxembourg, he will have practically 15 days without playing with intensity,” the coach continued, referring to Portugal’s next World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night.
“At this point I will say that there are strong possibilities of Ronaldo going to the game against Qatar, either starting or coming on later during the second half, so that the competitive rhythms are at their maximum against Luxembourg.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faced criticism for leaving Ronaldo out.
Solskjaer was strongly criticised for leaving Ronaldo out of his starting XI for Man United’s Premier League draw against Everton last weekend.
In a conversation with former UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov after the game, legendary United manager Alex Ferguson was heard to say: “I think they saw that Ronaldo wasn’t playing… You should always start your best players.”
Has Cristiano Ronaldo been underused by Solskjaer?
In fairness to Solskjaer, Ronaldo has played the full 90 minutes in all of the other three Premier League games he has been available for but he was withdrawn early in the Champions League defeat to Young Boys in Switzerland – albeit as part of an apparent tactical tweak following Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s sending off.
Given the joy Ronaldo has always felt representing his country and his determination to extend the world record he sealed against the Republic of Ireland last month, he’ll likely be more than happy to take to the field against Qatar on Saturday evening.