Wednesday 23 May 2018

'Toughened pros like Roy Keane would lambast him' - Fergie went to great lengths to toughen Ronaldo up at Man United

Roy Keane of Man Utd celebrates with Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo
Roy Keane of Man Utd celebrates with Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo

Evan Bartlett

Alex Ferguson would let his Manchester United players kick Cristiano Ronaldo in training in a order to toughen him up.

The Portuguese forward - now widely regarded as one of the finest footballers of all time - had a tendency to "fall to the floor like a rag doll" when he first moved to Old Trafford, according to former coach Tony Coton.

In order to get rid of this trait, Ferguson would encourage players like Roy Keane and Rio Ferdinand to show him some tough love.

"Members of the coaching staff were encouraged to turn a blind eye if they saw Ronaldo being fouled in practice matches and small-sided games," Coton told the Daily Mail.

"These games were intense and no prisoners were taken. Poor Ronaldo didn't know what hit him as team-mates he'd been sharing a joke with him gave him the kind of treatment that was no laughing matter."

Ronaldo would regularly get annoyed at the treatment, but with no sympathy sent his way soon learned how to deal with it.

"When a free-kick was not forthcoming, he'd throw his hands up in outrage and sit on the turf muttering Portuguese curses while the game continued around him," Coton added.

"Toughened pros like Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand would lambast him for being soft. It was tough love and slowly but surely, the message began to seep into our winger's consciousness."

Independent News Service

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