Portugal boss piles pressure on Solskjaer over treatment of Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal manager Fernando Santos has piled the pressure on Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, saying Cristiano Ronaldo needs more playing time.

Solskjaer was heavily criticised after leaving Ronaldo out of starting line-up for United's Premier League clash with Everton just before the international break.

The 36-year-old had scored a last-gasp decider in their Champions League win over Villarreal a few days before, but was benched as the Red Devils welcomed Rafael Benitez's side to Old Trafford.

Solskjaer's selection gamble backfired as United slipped to a 1-1 draw, despite Ronaldo coming on just before the hour mark with his team still leading.

And the United manager's decision to rest his star man could ironically result in him being given more playing time over the international break.

That's because Santos is keen to get Ronaldo back into his "rhythm" in Saturday's friendly against Qatar, ahead of Portugal's World Cup qualifying clash with Luxembourg on Tuesday.

"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.

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"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."

Santos' comments come after Solskjaer faced a backlash over his decision to bench Ronaldo against Everton, despite the fact the five-time Ballon d'Or winner would have had a full week to recover ahead of the clash with Qatar.

The United manager's selection was questioned by legendary former boss Sir Alex Ferguson as he chatted to UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov after the game at Old Trafford.

A clip surfaced in which Ferguson could be heard saying "you should always start with your best player" after Nurmagomedov stuck up for the young players who had started the game.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo has been named the Premier League's Player of the Month for September – 13 years after he last won the prize.

The award came after he made an instant impact on his return to England's top flight, scoring three goals in as many matches.

Ronaldo beat fierce competition from a six-man shortlist that also comprised Joao Cancelo, Antonio Rudiger, Mohamed Salah, Ismaila Sarr and Allan Saint-Maximin.

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