Drastic action was taken to prevent the Portuguese becoming too ball greedy during his time at Old Trafford
An unusual tactic from former Manchester United coach Walter Smith helped develop Cristiano Ronaldo into the legend he has become, Darren Fletcher has revealed.
The Portuguese first excelled at Old Trafford in a career that has seen him gone on to win five Ballons d’Or as well as armfuls of silverware in England, Spain with Real Madrid and now in Italy with Juventus.
Fletcher, a former midfield team-mate with the Red Devils, has revealed that Ronaldo used to infuriate his cohorts with his tendency to dwell in possession and that Smith took rather extreme action in order to cure the Portuguese star.
“You could see this charismatic kid, you could see the ability, you could see the drive to become the best player in the world – but he frustrated the life out of everybody,” Fletcher told beIN Sports .
“Everyone thought if he could learn…
“Eventually, Walter Smith came in and decided not to give fouls in training.
“I think the sole purpose was for Ronaldo. So when Ronaldo’s doing his skills, not passing the ball and taking the mick, the lads were fouling him
“Before, the first six months of the season, there’d be fouls given as you’d expect, and Walter said: ‘No, no fouls’.
“For two weeks Ronaldo was tearing his hair out and he was going bananas.
“It was open season. Hit him.
“What happens after a few weeks? Ronaldo starts moving the ball because he’s sick of getting kicked.
“Now he starts playing one or two-touch and running, now he starts getting goals.
“Now it starts clicking in his head: ‘I’m starting to score more goals, now I’m starting to make an impact in games’. That was the beginning of Ronaldo’s transition.”
Ronaldo played six years with United from 2003 to 2009 and made 196 Premier League appearances with them, scoring 84 goals.
Since leaving for Real Madrid and subsequently Juventus, he has grown to become one of the most iconic and popular players in the sport.