Former Manchester United coach Tony Coton has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson used to let players foul Cristiano Ronaldo in training to “toughen him up”.
Ronaldo, who was recently linked with a move back to Old Trafford, was identified by Ferguson as a potential future great and he wanted to stamp out any remaining weaknesses in his game.
And Coton claims that Ferguson was worried about Ronaldo’s reaction to being fouled in matches and that he went “on a mission” to get rid of his bad habit.
“Ferguson showed what he thought of this kid Ronaldo by handing him the club’s iconic No7 shirt when he signed him in 2003,” Coton told the Daily Mail.
“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 practise matches and small-sided games.
“These games were intense and no prisoners were taken. 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.”