Match of the Day pundits said they were “very surprised” by Cristiano Ronaldo’s omission from Manchester United’s starting line-up at the weekend – and it appears his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson was too.
In a conversation with former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at Old Trafford, the legendary ex-United manager was filmed saying “you should always start with your best players”.
It came after Ronaldo was kept on the bench until the 57th minute of United’s 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday.
The video, posted on Nurmagomedov’s Instagram, sees Ferguson suggest the Toffees were given a boost “when they saw Ronaldo wasn’t playing…”
Nurmagomedov then reminded Ferguson that Ronaldo came on in the second half, before the Scot said players of his calibre should start.
Ronaldo appeared to storm off the pitch at full-time, looking frustrated and muttering to himself.
“When you’ve got Cristiano Ronaldo, you have to build a team and structure around him, so it can work for him,” former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright said on Match of the Day.
“If you’ve got him in your team, a match winner, and you can’t set it up for him to be playing in there, to do what he does, he’s going to walk off the pitch like that.”
But United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defended his decision to rest the 36-year-old Portugal captain.
“Me and him we understand more than the experts,” said Solskjaer.
“It’s about picking the right moments to play him, to not play him. He’s not a young puppy anymore but he’s as professional as ever and ready to come on and he came on today with energy and attitude.”
Meanwhile, United assistant manager Mike Phelan has agreed a new deal with the club until 2024.
Phelan was a member of Ferguson’s coaching team before returning to Old Trafford when Solskjaer was initially appointed caretaker manager in December 2018.
United are also working to secure first-team coaches Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna on extended contracts.