Ferguson: Ronaldo at his peak

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Cristiano Ronaldo is a better player now than he was during his time at Manchester United.

Last Updated: 13/02/13 at 19:23 Post Comment

Ronaldo, 28, spent six successful years at Old Trafford, during which he scored 117 in 290 appearances, including 42 goals in 2007-08 as United won the Premier League and Champions League.

On Wednesday, four years after leaving Manchester to join Real Madrid for a world record £80m, the Portugal international will line up against his former club, looking to add to his tally of 182 goals in 179 games for the Spanish club.

"Cristiano is a better player than when he left us because of his maturity," said Ferguson. "He is at the peak of his career now.

"He was still a young man when he left and you can see how he has flourished in Madrid. His fitness, speed, goals - and he's never injured. That is unique in the modern game.

"I never thought he'd get the amount of goals he's scored. I knew he'd improve. I knew he was one of the best players in the world. But to score the goals he has is phenomenal."

However, United have their own attacking threats.

The major difference for United in the title race this term has been the arrival of Robin van Persie, who on Sunday took his goals tally for the season to 23 against Everton.

"Robin is now approaching that level," said Ferguson of comparisons with Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Ronaldo. "He has been a breath of fresh air."

Van Persie's strike-partner Wayne Rooney was depicted as a "hooligan" in the Spanish press on Tuesday, with sports daily Marca also describing the England player as "a freckled demon" who is "built like a barrel packed with gunpowder" and on his way to "blow up the Bernabeu".

"He is a mature player now," said Ferguson of Rooney. "He is 27. When players mature little bits of their games change.

"His goalscoring has been very consistent. He used to score in snatches. Now there is a far more consistent nature to his goals.

"He also plays different positions with great enthusiasm. Not every player in the world has these qualities."

Asked about today's unflattering reports in the Spanish press, Ferguson said: "Rooney can't read Spanish so we will be all right."

The United manager admits he's been looking forward to the visit to Madrid since the two sides were paired and said: "I think as soon as the draw was made, there was that anticipation about the tie.

"It's a fantastic challenge for myself and it should be a fantastic match between two teams and clubs who embrace the best parts of football, with great reputations.

"The acid test is this game, I have no doubts about that.

"It is unfortunate that we are meeting as early as this. I wish it had been at Wembley (in the final in May)."

While United have opened up a 12-point gap over rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, Real have endured a turbulent domestic season and languish 16 points behind foes Barcelona.

Claiming the pressure would be on for Jose Mourinho to deliver in this competition, the Scot added: "I think Jose has set his targets firmly on the European Cup, no doubt about that.

"It can be hard for us but there's a bit of pressure for them, too. At this moment in time, we're involved in three (competitions)."

You can only watch the best UEFA Champions League coverage here on Sky Sports. Watch Real Madrid v Manchester United exclusively live on Sky Sports 2HD and Sky Go from 6:00pm on Wednesday 13th February. Click here for more details and watch goals from United's route to the last 16.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

S

till reckon Chelsea will go for Khedira as back up for Matic. I think it will turn out to be quite a Mourihno-y window: We'll see the squad players and youth in action pre-season, say things like well, we need not buy anybody and then the club will bid £60m for Pogba and send everybody on loan.

tk421
F365's Transfer Guide - Part One

I

would love to be a fly on the wall at the meeting between Milner and Rodgers. I don't know if flies can count, but if they can then I would be counting the number of times Rodgers used the word outstanding in his attempts to get Milner to sign.

godzilla
Reds and Arsenal chase Milner

W

ell, it wouldn't be a summer without Arsenal fans fretting over losing a key player, and United throwing their weight around and muscling in on transfer deals which are (apparently) near to completion. If we can't be entertained by the football on the pitch, let's enjoy the silly off-pitch soap opera of the transfer season. Hurrah!

CamberleyGooner
The Back To It Gossip

Footer 365

Sepp Blatter announces he will resign as FIFA president

Sepp Blatter has announced he is to resign as president of FIFA and an election will be held to decide his successor.

Sepp Blatter to quit: Names in frame for FIFA top job

After FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced he will step down from the role, we look at the candidates to replace him.

Sepp Blatter to quit: Timeline leading to resignation of FIFA boss

We look back on the timeline of events which culminated in Sepp Blatter announcing his resignation as president of FIFA.

Mail Box

Liverpool 2015 Feels Like Liverpool 2011...

One Mailer says Benteke = Carroll, Bellamy = Milner and Clyne = Downing. Plus we have U21 Euro impatience, farewell Rio, Rafa Benitez, Milner, FIFA and title play-offs...

Calling Carlo For Liverpool... Please

One Liverpool Mailer wants a manager who isn't starstruck by the job. Plus why Milner has now become overrated, play-offs for the title, Ronaldinho and democracy..

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company