Taming Ronaldo: Ferguson returns to Old Trafford to induct new boss on ego management at Man United

Taming Ronaldo: Ferguson returns to Old Trafford to induct new boss on ego management at Man United


Former Manchester United manage, Sir Alex Ferguson, returned to Old Trafford on Tuesday for what may be viewed as an induction mission for new manager, Erik Ten Hag, whose arrival at Carrington coincided with the club’s iconic striker Cristiano Ronaldo’s request to leave.

Following the Tuesday meeting, Ten Hag is expected to take a leaf from Ferguson’s man-management techniques as he looks to convince Ronaldo to make a transfer U-turn and remain at Manchester United this summer.

The Red Devils have been rocked by the news that their iconic No.7 is ready to quit the club this summer, just one year on from sealing a sensational Old Trafford return. The 37-year-old has reportedly requested to leave the club in the current window should a suitable offer arrive amid claims he craves to satisfy his insatiable appetite for Champions League football and challenging for major honours.

United appear to have a battle on their hands to persuade the Portuguese superstar to remain at the club – and not for the first time in his career. Back in 2008, the Red Devils faced the same predicament and ultimately prevailed thanks to Ferguson’s intervention. Should history be repeated, Ten Hag could be the key this time around.

Fourteen years ago, it seemed for all the world that Ronaldo would end his stay in Manchester by fulfilling a dream move to Real Madrid as an epic transfer tug-of-war between the two European titans dominated the summer of ’08.

While Ferguson fervently fought to quash speculation surrounding the winger’s future, amid a tumultuous war of words with then Los Blancos president Ramon Calderon, Real Madrid were handed an unexpected boost after Ronaldo himself revealed his desire to play in the Spanish capital.

With United in real danger of losing their prized asset to the La Liga giants, Ferguson flew out to Lisbon in the off-season to make a personal plea to the striker. And the great Scot saw his efforts rewarded.

“I can confirm that I’ll be playing for Manchester United next season,” Ronaldo publicly declared in early August of 2008. “I’ll be playing with my heart and soul and I will fight and honour the shirt with the same desire and dedication as I always have. My coach [Ferguson] was kind enough to come and see me in Lisbon a few days ago. It was a very honest conversation between two people that respect each other and that I’m sure share a mutual affection and friendship.”

Ronaldo explained, “Sir Alex listened to me, I listened to him and we established that the best for both sides would be for me to continue at Old Trafford. It’s no sacrifice for me, it’s a great honour. I have important things to win in England. I want to defend the European title and help United become world champions, not forgetting the Premier League and other competitions.”

Ronaldo even went so far as to admit full responsibility for the unrest caused. He added: “I was the one that was responsible for all this controversy but it was never my intention to cause friction between these two clubs.”

Against all the odds, Ferguson’s intervention saw the superstar set aside his life-long aspirations and continue with United. The legendary manager later confessed he convinced Ronaldo to remain by settling upon a gentlemen’s agreement, which would allow the United No. 7 to depart the following summer, something which subsequently occurred.

Opening up on the episode within his autobiography, Ferguson wrote: “I said [to Ronaldo], ‘I know you want to go to Real Madrid, but I’d rather shoot you than sell you to that guy [Calderon] now. If you perform, don’t mess us about, and someone comes and offers us a world record fee, then we will let you go.'”

When United faced the threat of losing Ronaldo back then, the club’s manager stepped up. Should the Red Devils achieve their aim of retaining the famed forward once again, the mantle of convincing him to stay may well rest on the shoulders of the recently employed Ten Hag.

The Dutchman has the opportunity to further endear himself to United’s faithful, who appear optimistic the former Ajax boss can be the man to oversee some much-needed change at the club. While some top-quality signing will no doubt help persuade the Portugal captain to stay put, a pep talk – and perhaps a massage of the striker’s ego – from Ten Hag may also do the trick.

Ronaldo had a change of heart once before; there’s still a chance it could happen again. On the flip side, United’s new man at the helm may have just been handed the perfect excuse to offload the frontman and start afresh. Only time will tell.

  • A Tell / Express report
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