Cristiano Ronaldo and Man Utd teammates fly out for Champions League opener

By Andy Hampson

Manchester United head to Switzerland for their Champions League opener with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisting he can leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of his starting XI if he sees fit.

Five-time world player of the year Ronaldo typically grabbed the headlines in a dream return to Old Trafford on Saturday, scoring twice in United’s 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle.

The Portuguese great rejoined the club prior to last month’s transfer deadline, and will make his first European appearance for the Red Devils since the 2009 final defeat to Barcelona if selected against Young Boys on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old brings with him an inspirational aura and huge reputation but United boss Solskjaer claims that does not mean he will always be an automatic choice.

Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said it is "not impossible" to leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of the starting line up (AFP via Getty Images)

“No, it’s not impossible to leave him out,” Solskjaer said. “He is 36.

“Mason (Greenwood) is 19, so it’s the same. I have to manage his minutes and I have to manage a 36-year-old’s minutes as well.”

Solskjaer has no doubt that, as well as adding quality to the squad, the arrivals of Ronaldo and fellow new signing Raphael Varane will raise standards among the rest of the group.

The Norwegian said: “Of course. The more quality you add to the group, the more healthy the competition (is) and (the more) leaders (there are) who they look up to.

“I think seeing Raphael and Cristiano coming has raised everyone’s eyebrows because they are winners.

“They have won everything there is to win and they put demands on themselves which the young boys, the rest of the team, look at and think that is how you stay at the top. So it is only going to be good for everyone.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted for Jesse Lingard after his goal against Newcastle (Getty)

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Another player to get on the scoresheet in the weekend victory was Jesse Lingard. The England forward, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at West Ham in the second half of last season, came off the bench in the 66th minute and added United’s fourth in injury time.

The 28-year-old also struck twice in England’s victory over Andorra last week and Solskjaer feels he has benefited from his time away.

Solskjaer said: “Jesse has had his hard times and he is a lovely boy – or man now.

“He was allowed to go out to find himself. I could have kept him because I know how good a player he is but he showed everyone with West Ham and England what kind of player he is.

“It was a special day for him, coming back and scoring a goal in front of the fans. He is a Man United kid. He has grown up with the Man United kit on since he was a baby, so I am so pleased for him.”

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