Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Cristiano Ronaldo will probably play on into his 40s, whilst joking he has sent a letter to the Premier League with a strange request.
United face Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime with Dean Smith promising his side will go head to head with Solskjaer’s men.
Solskjaer’s men have collected 13 points so far – a “decent return”, according to the United boss. But the Norwegian has admitted: “We’ve scored quite a few goals. Still things to work on and there will be bigger challenges ahead but we’ve laid the foundation to build the momentum.”
And one of the things he would like to improve is to stop conceding the first goal.
Solskjaer said with a smile: “I’ve sent a letter to the Premier League asking if we can start games 1-0 down. It will make it so much easier for us.
“Joking apart, it’s a big, big part of the game and we need to start better. We can’t expect to come back and win games as we have done fantastically in the last 12, 14, 15 months, but that’s going to catch up with us.”
The 36-year-old has scored four goals in three games since returning to his former club in August. And the former Juventus man has shown no signs yet of slowing down.
Former United team-mate Ryan Giggs famously played on past his 40th birthday, and Solskjaer can see Ronaldo doing exactly the same.
Asked how long the Portugal international could go on, he said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if he still played when he was 40, not at all, because of the way he looks after himself.
“That’s the key to it – and of course some genes. There must be some genes as well, some DNA in there.
‘One of the quickest in the Premier League’
“He has put every single ounce of energy and effort into becoming the player he is and has been, so he deserves every single little plaudit that he gets for his physical state.
“What’s more impressive is when you have achieved as much as he has, he’s still as hungry. His mentality is still absolutely spot-on and that’s desire from inside that he’s going to keep going until his head says, ‘no, I’ve given everything now’.
“Hopefully it will last a few more years. Linford Christie was quite an age when he won his gold as well, so age is never a problem.
“He’s still one of the quickest players in the league and I’m still happy with his physical condition.
“But of course he’s back into the Premier League and there’s maybe more intensity than the Italian and the Spanish leagues, so we’ll have to manage his workload.
“But he’s there to score goals, of course, and to create goals.”