Portugal boss Fernando Santos has seemingly questioned Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s use of Cristiano Ronaldo, after the forward started from the bench in the 1-1 draw with Everton last weekend.
The former Juventus man has enjoyed a fine start to life back at Old Trafford, netting five goals in six games in all competitions so far this season.
That included three goals in just his first four league games, leading to the 36-year-old being named the Premier League’s Player of the Month for September, 13 years after he last won the award during his first spell in England.
With goals also coming against Young Boys and Villarreal in the Champions League – the latter being a dramatic stoppage-time winner – the prolific striker has no doubt settled back in quickly and could well be the difference maker this season for Solskjaer’s side.
Such has been his immediate impact, it was a huge surprise to see him named on the bench in last week’s clash with the Toffees, with the Manchester United boss opting to shake things up due to the quick turnaround after the European clash a few days earlier.
That decision ultimately backfired as the Red Devils put in a limp display and were left having to settle for a point, with Ronaldo unable to make a telling impact after being introduced as a second-half substitute, before looking visibly frustrated as he marched down the tunnel at full-time.
Cristiano Ronaldo headed straight down the tunnel after United’s 1-1 draw with Everton.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 2, 2021
With the Portuguese icon now on international duty, his national team boss has perhaps aimed a dig at Solskjaer for his use of the player, with Fernando Santos insisting that his captain is in need of game time in the upcoming friendly with Qatar on Saturday, in order to be ready for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg.
“He will go to the game [against Qatar] because he needs playing time,” said Santos on Friday. “It’s important to him at this stage.
“The last full game he played was in the Champions League [against Villarreal on September 29].
“If he only plays against Luxembourg, he will have practically 15 days without playing with intensity.
“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.”