Saturday, 29 November 2008

Sir Alex Comparing Ronaldo With Pele

Manchester United's post-match press conferences have been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo in recent weeks, as the debate rages on as to whether or not he's unfairly targetted.

Many pundits and spectators still hold the view that the Portuguese ace is a serial simulator, but Sir Alex Ferguson has stood firm in support of his star forward.

"Cristiano had an operation in the summer which was the result of consistent tackling on him but that hasn't deterred him - he is just a naturally brave boy," the United manager told the News of the World.

Ferguson: Cristiano Ronaldo's No Cheat, Just Like Pele

"It never stopped Maradona or Pele. You don't think of injury when you have a ball at your feet because you want to do something with it.

"And that's not getting recognised properly. He is wanting to do something with the ball and fans are chanting 'cheat, cheat' at him but who is the cheat?

"Who is cheating football? It's not Cristiano. How do we know who the cheats are in this game? It's stupid - it's a stupid game."

Ronaldo is set to be awarded the Ballon d'Or after his astonishing exploits last season, which saw him score 42 goals as United won both the Premier League and the Champions League.

Some have questioned whether the 23-year-old has what it takes to become a legend of the beautiful game, pointing to his often underwhelming displays on the big stage.

But Ferguson had no hesitation comparing the ex-Sporting Lisbon star to the likes of Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Pele - as well as Scottish immortal Jimmy Johnstone.

"All the great players over the years - the Maradonas, Cruyffs, Peles - they all took a kick," he said.

"It didn't deter them at all. I remember wee Jimmy Johnstone at Celtic. As soon as he was fouled he's take the free kick quickly and go straight at the defender who had just fouled him to let him know he wouldn't be bullied by him and Ronaldo is prepared to do the same thing and take the ball immediately.

"I think his courage is a natural thing and you don't lose that even if you get an injury."

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