Rafael has claimed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer restored Manchester United’s identity before losing his job.
Now 31 and playing his trade in his native Brazil for Botafogo, Rafael enjoyed a successful spell at United, winning three Premier League titles, three Community Shields and a League Cup in a seven-year stint with the club.
Solskjaer was sacked after the chastening 4-1 defeat to Watford – United’s fifth defeat in seven Premier League games – but Rafael insists the Norweigan could leave the club with his head held high after steering the side out of a tough period.
”I think he built like everybody said he built, they were beginning to look like United again, they achieved and played some very good stuff,” said Rafael.
”I think at that moment, it was the choice United had to make. I think the supporters were beginning to get a little bit frustrated.
”The players could maybe not do exactly what he and his staff wanted them to do, I’m not saying it was necessarily the right choice but I think it was the choice United had to make.”
Arriving at Old Trafford from Fluminese at just 17 years old, Rafael has always been a big admirer of Solskjaer, having thanked the former United manager for being so welcoming upon his arrival from South America in 2007.
Both Rafael and his twin brother Fabio – who plays for Nantes in Ligue 1 – are still fondly remembered for their time at United.