Over the past couple of months there has been a change in attitude in Cristiano Ronaldo, for the most part at least, with what once appeared to be inescapable transfer to Real Madrid this summer now looking dead in the water.
The dream of Real Madrid will always be there but now it looks as though Ronaldo may fulfil the wishes of many reds and stay at United for another year or two, pushing himself to the limits, before settling in to life in Madrid.
Sir Alex Ferguson has today spoken about how the deal for the Portuguese winger went through and what he makes of his reputation as a diver.
“As a teenager, Ronaldo was never likely to be heading anywhere else but here,” said Ferguson. “We had an arrangement with Sporting Lisbon that he would stay with them for two years to mature. The boy was aware of it. Then in the summer of 2003 we went to Lisbon and faced Sporting in a friendly and he tore us apart. I got word up to Peter Kenyon in the directors’ box that he had to come down immediately because we weren’t leaving that ground until we had secured Ronaldo. We got the boy, his mother and his agent together to sort it out. Later we sent a private plane over and the deal was done.”
Ferguson also reflected on the label Ronaldo carries with him, a diver, something which the manager kindly describes as ‘cultural baggage’.
“Along with a great player, of course, we got a lot of cultural baggage,” he continued. “There was a lot of criticism about diving. Latin players tend to react to a tackle more than our players. His own teammates have given plenty of stick. But he and Lionel Messi must be the most tackled players in the world. He can’t always be diving and he can’t always be right in his protests. The point too often missed is that when he’s running at the speeds he does, the slightest touch puts him off balance. We crave players with the courage to go and attack defenders but when they are abused the defenders frequently get off with it. Ronaldo is passing the ball more these days, maybe because he got fed up with getting kicked. But the thing is he wants to be a terrific player and that ambition won’t be crushed.”