Saturday 20 January 2018

Alex Ferguson gives brilliant explanation for why he'd choose Cristiano Ronaldo over Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
PIC SHOWS (L TO R) Barry Funston, CEO of the Rory Foundation, Sir Alex Ferguson, Rory McIlroy and James Nesbitt arriving at ‘An Evening with Rory’ at Dublin’s Convention Centre.
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

The dominance of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi was illustrated again last weekend, this time by an honour they didn't win.

By claiming La Liga's Golden Boot with 40 goals, Luis Suarez became the first person not named Ronaldo or Messi to win the award since 2009, which highlights how prominent the duo have been since the Portuguese star joined Madrid from Manchester United.

The Messi v Ronaldo debate is one of football's most fascinating arguments, and the greatest manager of them all weighed in on the discussion in Dublin this evening.

Speaking at an event at the Convention Centre with Rory McIlroy in aid of the golfer's foundation, ex-United boss Alex Ferguson used a variation of one of football's great cliches as he leaned towards the player he helped grow from a young age.

Fergie didn't quite say that Messi couldn't do it on a wet night in Stoke, but he came pretty close. "When the ball is at Messi's feet it is like he is wearing slippers," Ferguson said.

"But there is a difference between Messi and Ronaldo and I'll tell you what it is.  I think Messi is a Barcelona player but Ronaldo could be playing for Stockport County and he would score a hat-trick. He is brilliant in the air and he has two feet."

An argument over Messi and Ronaldo has claimed a life in India

Ferguson touched on a wide number of topics during the hour-long discussion, from the most valuable quality a sportsperson can have ('total concentration, Bryan Robson had that') to the importance of guarding against complacency.

He also said that one of the reasons he struggled in his first few years at Old Trafford was because he put a lot of focus into developing the underage structures at the club, which eventually yielded huge success.

However, he added that one member of the Class of 92 wasn't as talented as the rest.

"Gary Neville was an ordinary average player who made himself a great player from practice."

Despite all the trophies won during his time at Man United, one of the hallmarks of Ferguson's reign was how he dealt with failure. He finished second in the Premier League with Manchester United six times, and on all six occasions his side returned the following year to win the title.

He gave a particularly good insight into how he motivated his team after the heartbreak of losing the 2011/12 title to the Sergio AGUERO!!!! goal in the dying seconds.

"For 30 seconds we were champions," Ferguson said. "I had to walk down the tunnel and John O'Shea was there. He was playing for Sunderland and he saw me and he just said 'Boss, what can I say?'.

"I went into the dressing room and I told the players when they were doing any media interviews just to say congratulations to City and that we were going to win the league the following year."

United did take the Premier League crown that season in what turned out to be Ferguson's farewell. He spoke of the moment he finally decided to call it a day, after his wife lost her sister, but admits that had United not won the league, he may have had second thoughts about the decision.

"I told Cathy I was going to retire and she said 'are you sure?'," he said.

"I knew it was time because the first time I said I would retire she said 'no you aren't'.  If we didn't win the league I don't know what I would have done."

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