Ex-Man United Coach Reveals How Sir Alex Toughened Up Cristiano Ronaldo
Former Manchester United coach Tony Coton has revealed how Cristiano Ronaldo's Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson 'toughened up' the Portuguese superstar, which has made the 32-year-old into the player he is today.
Ronaldo landed in Manchester in the summer of 2003, and while Ferguson recognized the then youngster's obvious talent, he noticed that his habit of going to ground too easily could hinder him in the future. As a result, according to ex-United coach Coton, the Scottish boss hatched a plan:
“Ferguson showed what he thought of this kid Ronaldo by handing him the club’s iconic number seven shirt when he signed him in 2003," Coton told Manchester Evening News.
“But just as important was the gaffer’s ability to recognise his weaknesses.
“One flaw was his habit of falling to the floor like a rag doll every time he lost a tackle.
“Sir Alex embarked on a mission to toughen him up. 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.”
“These games were intense and no prisoners were taken,” added Coton. “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.
“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.
“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.”
Ronaldo seems to have slowly lost the stigma surrounding him regarding his 'diving' in recent years, and Ferguson could well be the man to thank for that. And today, the Madrid superstar is well within the bracket of best players to ever grace the turf.