EPL

Cristiano Ronaldo criticism wrong – Solskjaer backs Man Utd superstar's work ethic

By Sports Desk October 22, 2021

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted it is wrong to criticise Cristiano Ronaldo's work ethic as he launched a staunch defence of the Red Devils superstar.

Ronaldo was the hero again on Wednesday, scoring the match-winning goal in a thrilling 3-2 Champions League win over Atalanta, having trailed 2-0 at half-time.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored six goals in eight matches across all competitions since returning to United from Juventus, though there has been some scrutiny of the 36-year-old amid the club's struggle for form.

Ronaldo has been criticised for not working hard or defending enough and as United prepare to host bitter Premier League rivals Liverpool on Sunday, Solskjaer backed the all-time leading scorer in men's international football.

"First of all, he's fit enough to do it still. But he's played this game 500 times before," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

"He's been in that situation so many times, and it's one of them: 'I know what [team-mate Luke Shaw] is going to do, I know where I need to be and I'm still capable of doing it'. That's key.

"He's changed his position from being a wide forward into more of a box centre forward because he knows how to score a goal, he wants to score goals. When he first came, with all the tricks and the pace, he had the hunger - and he's still got the hunger.

"He's done what every player has to do throughout his career, you have to evolve."

Solskjaer added: "When Cristiano came to us, he'd not had a proper pre-season at Juventus and you can see he's gradually getting fitter and fitter.

"Now he feels: 'I'm getting towards the level I know I can be'. Wednesday night, the focus, the physical effort, the run… he had the highest amount of sprints, the longest sprint distance, the longest high-intensity distance.

"We talk about players who run a lot, he does as much as them. If people want to criticise his work ethic, that's completely wrong. You see him running down the channels, which he has to do as a centre forward.

"He does the work that we want him to do for the team. Of course, the team, when you have a player like him, you've got to get the best out of him, but he knows he's part of the jigsaw of that team and he's been brilliant."

United – sixth in the table and four points behind second-placed Liverpool – have won just one of their last 10 Premier League meetings against the Reds (D6 L3), losing this exact fixture 4-2 last season.

Solskjaer's United shipped four goals in a home Premier League game for only the fifth time in last season's encounter with Liverpool. The last team to score four-plus goals in consecutive top-flight visits to Old Trafford was Burnley in 1961-62 (won 4-1) and 1962-63 (won 5-2).

United are without a clean sheet in any of their last nine home league matches, their longest streak without one since a run of 10 between September 1970 and February 1971.

Meanwhile, United have only picked up eight points from their last seven home Premier League matches (W2 D2 L3), winning twice as many points in their previous seven at Old Trafford (16 – W5 D1 L1).

Related items

  • Ashes 2021-22: Lewis defends England selection, Stokes fitness to be assessed Ashes 2021-22: Lewis defends England selection, Stokes fitness to be assessed

    England fast bowling coach Jon Lewis defended the tourists' selection for the first Ashes Test and says Ben Stokes' fitness will be assessed ahead of day three at the Gabba.

    Australia are in command of the series-opener in Brisbane after closing on 343-7 in reply to England's 147 all out, leading by 196 runs.

    Travis Head (112 not out) smashed the third-fastest Ashes century off only 85 balls after David Warner made 94 and Marnus Labuschagne crafted 74 on day two.

    Ollie Robinson was the pick of the England bowlers, taking 3-48, but had to leave the field with a hamstring injury, although the paceman later revealed he had not done serious damage.

    Stokes also sustained a knee injury on a tough day for Joe Root's side in the heat, with spinner Jack Leach's 11 overs going for 95.

    But Lewis says the selectors did not feel they ought to have played an extra seamer.

    "We looked at the pitch on the day before the game and the morning of the game and decided to go with the make-up of the team that we have," he told reporters.

    "That's what we felt was the right decision at the time, and I think if we'd have all bowled to the best of our ability, we would have put Australia under a bit more pressure than we did today.

    "We still took several Australian wickets. We are a bit behind in the game; however, like I said to the lads before, I know the guys will come back fighting in the next few days."

    Lewis was unable to shed any light on the extent of the damage Stokes has done.

    Asked about the all-rounder's injury, he replied: "I don't know, I don't assess players, I'm not part of the medical team. We'll see how he pulls up in the morning."

    Stokes bowled Warner for 17, but the opener was reprieved as England's vice-captain had over-stepped.

    Warner was also dropped by Rory Burns on 48 and should have been run out when he had 60 to his name on a bad day for the tourists in the field.

  • RB Leipzig appoint former Schalke coach Tedesco as Marsch's successor RB Leipzig appoint former Schalke coach Tedesco as Marsch's successor

    Domenico Tedesco has been appointed as RB Leipzig's new head coach, replacing Jesse Marsch.

    Former Schalke boss Tedesco comes in less than a week after Marsch left the club following a third successive Bundesliga defeat.

    Marsch joined Leipzig from sister club Salzburg in the off-season, but the task of replacing Julian Nagelsmann proved too great for the American.

    A defeat to Union Berlin on Saturday has left them 11th in the table, though Leipzig responded under Achim Beierlorzer by beating Manchester City 2-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

    That victory ensured Leipzig drop into a two-legged play-off for a place in the Europa League last 16.

    Tedesco has now been handed the reins, signing a contract until June 2023. Leipzig also confirmed assistant coach Beierlorzer has left the club.

    The 36-year-old was last in charge of Spartak Moscow, spending two seasons in Russia after he was dismissed by Schalke in 2019.

    Tedesco, who graduated from the DFB coaching school in the same class as Nagelsmann, finished second in the Bundesliga in his first season with Schalke in 2017-18 but was unable to maintain that form the following season.

    Despite Tedesco's dismissal, Schalke's slide continued and they were relegated from the top flight last term. 

    His first task will be to fix Leipzig's defensive issues. They have already committed six errors leading to shots in the Bundesliga - an increase of one from the entirety of last season - and three of those have ended in goals. None of their mistakes directly resulted in goals conceded under Nagelsmann in 2020-21. 

    Leipzig have let in 18 goals in the top flight but have an expected goals (xG) against of 23.6. Their xG against in the 2020-21 top-flight campaign was 29.6.

    Tedesco's first game in charge will come against Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

  • Wolff: Formula One title battle is amazing for the sport Wolff: Formula One title battle is amazing for the sport

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes this year's dramatic Formula One title race is "amazing for the sport".

    Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen head into the final grand prix of the season level on points at the top of the drivers' championship.

    Mercedes, meanwhile, are bidding to win their eighth constructors' title. The gap between themselves and Red Bull is 28 points, though Wolff's team could still lose the crown to their rivals.

    With such drama promised in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Wolff thinks it can only serve as a boost to F1, which had become predictable due to Mercedes' dominance. 

    Indeed, Hamilton is aiming for a record eighth world title and a fifth consecutive championship triumph.

    Since 2014, Hamilton has only failed to win the championship on one occasion, finishing second to team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016, while Verstappen and Red Bull are bidding for a maiden title.

    "The final race will be intense, but it's important to not get distracted, to just keep our heads down, our feet on the ground and bring the performance that we had last time out," Wolff said in a release on Mercedes' official team website.

    "We're grateful to still be in this fight. The fact that both championships will be decided at the season finale proves just how hard both sides have been challenging each other and pushing each other forward.

    "It's all or nothing for the season finale and that's amazing for the sport, amazing for the fans and amazing for all of us, too.

    "We're also relishing the challenges of racing in Abu Dhabi this weekend, at a circuit that has gone through quite a few changes since we last raced there.

    "There are new sections of track to understand and that really is a step into the unknown for everyone. So, it's going to be another exciting weekend!"

    Verstappen won the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and in the unlikely event both he and Hamilton finish outside of the points, it will be the Dutchman who wins the title courtesy of his nine race victories for the season.

    Mercedes had won the previous six races in Abu Dhabi prior to Verstappen's victory last year. The Red Bull star is aiming to become the first F1 champion from the Netherlands, and he would be the fourth-youngest champion at the age of 24 years, two months and 12 days.

    Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni, in 1974, are the only other F1 title rivals to have gone into the last race of a season level on points. Never in the history of the championship has a season ended with two drivers tied at the top of the standings.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.