Paul Parker has questioned whether or not Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the strength of character to stand up to Cristiano Ronaldo amid the debate over who should take Manchester United’s penalties following the return of the club legend.
The 36-year-old added to his seemingly never-ending list of records with two goals in last night’s World Cup qualifying win over Ireland which saw him eclipse Ali Daei to become the most prolific marksman in the history of international football.
Ronaldo will, however, be suspended for Portugal’s next match and will therefore fly back to England ahead of schedule, enhancing the likelihood of him making his second United debut in next Saturday’s Premier League clash against Newcastle at Old Trafford.
The former Juventus forward’s international teammate, Bruno Fernandes, has been United’s first choice penalty taker over the course of the last 12 months and has missed only one of his 16 attempts.
Parker believes Solskjaer should retain faith in Fernandes’s ability from the spot, even if it would mean running the risk of upsetting Ronaldo.
He told Eurosport: ‘The biggest concern for some players and the fans may be if they see Ronaldo leading Ole into some of the decisions.
‘You see with the Portuguese manager [Fernando Santos] how he leads him so that will be the biggest concern if that was to happen.
‘I think he’s got enough respect for Sir Alex, United and Solskjaer to let him make decisions about players in and around him.
‘Ole won’t be able to think he’s 36 years of age and think he can rest him. He is going to want to win that golden boot.
‘As much as his countryman Fernandes takes penalties I’m sure Fernandes enjoys scoring goals and the adulation that comes with it.
‘He’s very good with free-kicks in and around the box, too. He hits the target more than Ronaldo does.
‘You shouldn’t change something that’s been so strong for United in the last 18 months, but we have to wait and see how strong Ole is going to be in that situation.
‘Or is Fernandes going to feel obliged to turn around and put everything down as say ‘he can take them’.’
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