Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likened Cristiano Ronaldo’s impact on Manchester United to that of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls.
Ronaldo equalised in stoppage-time in each half to secure a 2-2 draw with Atalanta to keep United top of Group F in the Champions League and the 36-year-old is their top scorer with nine goals.
Ronaldo’s last five United goals have either been matchwinners or secured a point and he has five goals in four Champions League games this season.
Solskjaer compared Roy Keane to Jordan, instrumental in the Bulls’ six NBA Chanmpionship triumphs in the 1990s, last year and paid Ronaldo the same compliment in Bergamo.
“We all have our roles and responsibilities,” Solskjaer said. “Cristiano is a leader in the group, but that’s what he does: he scores goals.
“We’re not happy conceding two goals. Both of them are very, very fine margins. The first one I think should be off, the second one is a centimetre onside, probably. He’s maybe offside last season, it’s fine margins.
“But he does provide those moments. I’m sure Chicago Bulls didn’t mind having Michael Jordan either. Sometimes the teams have the players they have and that’s why they are at Man United and why they are champions at Chicago Bulls, you come up with those moments.
“Cristiano is getting better and better for us, he’s feeling better. He’s not had a proper pre-season, now he’s getting better and better and he’s feeling up to speed now.”
United now have seven points from four games and are only above Villarreal – on the same number of points – due to beating the Spaniards in their second game.
Villarreal host United in three weeks’ time, with Atalanta due at Young Boys, and Solskjaer was pleased with a positive point at the Gewiss Stadium.
“You know the point here tonight is very important,” Solskjaer explained. “I’ve said if you win your home games and get a result or two away from home you go through. The attitude to never give in was there, you can’t question the attitude.
“The first-half: we were a bit too sloppy, gifted them a few too many transitions and turnovers but the goal was excellent and we did create some openings, could’ve scored more, the two goals they had were very tight, calls for offside. I’m sure their first one should be off, as he blocks David [de Gea]’s view, but the second one is fine margins. Very pleased with a point.”