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On the eve of Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford, the excitement is building as we hear tales of old and as well as new predictions on the talisman's impact at Manchester United.
Seasoned and still possessing the hunger to be the best version of himself every single day, Ronaldo is trusting another of his former teammates Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to push boundaries and keep standards high for the club to compete for honours over the next 'three or four seasons.'
The 36-year-old has worked under numerous managers for each of his four professional clubs, not getting on with Rafael Benitez at Real Madrid or Maurizio Sarri at Juventus. Insiders say it was because they treated him like a 'normal player', where Ronaldo needs to feel loved and special. One man who ultimately mastered this was Sir Alex Ferguson. Most pictures at United's training ground Carrington of the two, you will see the manager who Ronaldo called a 'father figure' and dedicated his return to the club to, played a huge part in the rise of the Euro 2020 Golden Boot winner. That doesn't mean he didn't escape his infamous hairdryer treatment.
In the build-up to his return tomorrow, Rio Ferdinand who won league titles and a UEFA Champions League in the same side as Ronaldo recalls a time when Ronaldo was dressed down by the Scot.
During the 2005/06 season, United travelled to Lisbon and the home of Benfica in a must win Group D match. Of course, Ronaldo had been a Sporting Lisbon player and was getting himself wound up for the occasion as Ferdinand recalls.
“The game became the Cristiano Ronaldo show,” Ferdinand said: “He was trying to show his skills and nothing was coming off. We lost and afterwards the manager absolutely destroyed him. ‘Playing by yourself? Who the hell do you think you are?’."
It would prove to be a grounding for the player and an honest lesson which he took on board. The impact Sir Alex Ferguson had on the returning star was massive according to the former defender now pundit, who played in that embarrassing night in The Estádio da Luz in a team that included Scholes, Rooney, Giggs and van Nistelrooy.
“Ferguson was brave to do that. He knew Ronaldo was the key to us winning anything. A lot of managers would have been scared of taking him on. I never saw England managers hammering David Beckham like that, or Steven Gerrard, or Frank Lampard, or Wayne Rooney. But Ferguson would go for anyone. It didn’t matter if you were the main man, he’d open you up if you needed it.”
Now the stage is set for the five time Ballon d'Or winner to return and deliver the goods for Ferdinand, Ferguson and everyone associated with his legacy at the club for the second time around.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
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