‘Cristiano lifts everyone’ – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hails returning Ronaldo

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heaped praise on Cristiano Ronaldo after the returning Manchester United great followed a pre-match speech with a brace on his Old Trafford homecoming against Newcastle.

Back on his old stomping ground in a red shirt for the first time in 12 years, the 36-year-old was the star of the show as he enjoyed a dream second debut for the club.

Ronaldo opened the scoring from close range in first-half stoppage-time and fired United back into the lead after Javier Manquillo had drawn Newcastle level early in the second half.

Bruno Fernandes fired home a 25-yard rocket and substitute Jesse Lingard scored a lovely goal at the death to wrap up a 4-1 win that saw their deadline-day signing make an immediate impact.

Solskjaer revealed Ronaldo gave “a little speech to the boys” on the eve of the game but was coy about what his former team-mate had said.

“Of course everyone, when they come into the team, they have to introduce themselves,” the United manager said with a smile. “Maybe not everyone knows his name. At least they do now.

“The atmosphere has been electric around the club, the supporters have really enjoyed the last 10 days or so since he signed.

“There was loads of expectations obviously this afternoon on the team and on him and he’s delivered.”

Asked if there was any doubt about what Ronaldo would add to United, Solskjaer said of his former team-mate: “I don’t think so. He does what he does.

“Cristiano lifts everyone, he gets everyone so focused when he’s in and around the place, he puts demands on himself, which then will put demands on his team-mates and it puts demands on us.

“That’s why he’s done so much in his career. He’s been so disciplined.

“We knew he’s evolved, he’s developed as a player, he’s a different type of player now compared to what he was when he left, but he’s still a ruthless and clinical goalscorer.

“He smells the big moments, he senses when there’s a goal in it.”

Solskjaer said Ronaldo played the entirety of the game as he needed 90 minutes under his belt on a day when Newcastle were eventually blown away.

“You’re playing against a team that is well organised, didn’t give us loads of space and we had to be patient,” the Norwegian said.

“It’s never easy after an international break to get your tempo and rhythm. Of course we had yesterday to work with everyone together and that was it.

“I was very pleased with the patience, very pleased that we didn’t just lose our heads, especially so when they scored in the second half.

“We upped the tempo a little bit and we know we’ve got quality, so very pleased with how efficient we were in front of the goal as well.”

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce cut a frustrated figure after the match and took exception to being asked in his post-match press conference about claims that he took a holiday during the recent international break.

Hitting back at the journalist who posed the question, he said: “Do I really have to answer that? That is what fans are asking are they?

“We trained all week, we were in every day. Our preparation was meticulous.

“What was I supposed to do while six of them were away? Our preparation was fine. You could see the gameplan and what we worked to.

“To answer questions like that is typical of a question that I’d get from you and your newspaper if I’m brutally honest. That is why they are the way they are – the way you are and your negativity, constantly.”

Bruce has had a difficult relationship with supporters during his two years in charge and was again the subject of chants against him from away fans.

Asked about that, he said: “What can I say to that? What do you want me to say? That I am delighted about that? I can’t comment on that, sorry.”

On the game itself, Bruce felt his side acquitted themselves well but paid the price for lapses defensively.

“There were positives to take out but unfortunately, defensively, we are not doing enough,” he added.

“It is a shame because up until half-time I can’t remember the goalkeeper making a save and we get punished (after) a little deflection. The goalkeeper spills it and Ronaldo’s got a tap-in. It was cruel on us.”

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