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Manchester United changed one rule in training when Cristiano Ronaldo joined the club which made the forward very angry, there were no fouls in training matches.
The youngster had a great debut, coming on as a substitute against Bolton Wanderers, but did have a knack of occasionally giving the ball away. Darren Fletcher revealed that to help Ronaldo move the ball on quickly United changed the rules in training so there were no fouls.
"Listen, he had a tough time as well in the dressing room," Fletcher told the Lock Down podcast.
"There were times he was holding on to the ball too much and his decision-making wasn't there yet. He had a tough time, he got told a few home truths.
"...Walter [Smith, then United assistant manager] came in and he basically decided to not give fouls in training. I know it was definitely for Ronaldo.
"And the boys were flying into each other and Ronnie was getting lumps kicked out of him. Before, you wouldn't get soft fouls but you would get a foul, he'd be taking the mick, draw a foul, win it, laugh, get the ball. So Walter just decided there were no fouls now in training. Ronaldo for two weeks was going bananas, 'who's this Scottish guy? What is this?'.
"Basically, the lads tackled you anyway at United, but if you knew there wasn't going to be a foul. Honestly, it's amazing how quickly Ronnie started moving the ball and running because he knew he wasn't going to get a foul, so there was no point hanging on to it.
"And then he started to score more goals and get in more goal scoring positions. Listen, it's a small little thing but I feel the second half of the season under Walter Smith he made a big step. Don't get me wrong, he made massive progressions off the back of that.
"But it was just a small little thing for a few weeks that I remember Ronaldo being absolutely raging about, quickly accepting and then all of a sudden started taking one and two touch and passing and running more without the ball, and started scoring more goals.
"I think something clicked in him like, 'oh, the skills are good but now this coaching style has made me recognise that if I move the ball quicker and run, with my physical attributes, I'm going to become more effective'. Great management, again."
Clearly things worked out for Ronaldo at Old Trafford and he ended up scoring 118 goals for the club, including 42 in one season, despite being a winger.
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