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How Ronaldo transformed during his early Man Utd days

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United
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During a chat on BeINSPORTS, Darren Fletcher explained how Cristiano Ronaldo transformed during his early days at Manchester United.

By all means, Cristiano Ronaldo’s old Manchester United avatar cannot be matched by any player, it is simply too good to watch. Now, before shaping up as a pure goalscorer, the Portuguese striker boasted immense skills on the field. 

Although these tricks were a feast to the eyes, they gave birth to frustration and anger within the United squad. Because when Ronaldo received the ball at his feet, he preferred to dribble through over passing and possession.

In fact, during his very early days at Old Trafford, the ultimate striker lacked the ability to score in front of a goal. Obviously, Cristiano developed throughout the years and went on to become one of the all-time greats. But, a certain someone made an unnoticed impact on the forward.

Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher narrated an interesting story while talking with Richard Keys on BeINSPORTS in 2020. He believed that Walter Smith, a former assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson, was responsible for a change in CR7’s behaviour on the field.

Richard Keys questioned Fletcher with: “Many described Ronaldo as a circus act in the early days. What changed? Or who changed him?” On that, the ex-United player had a fascinating anecdote.

An undervalued influence. 🙌

Fletcher said: “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. Everyone thought if he could learn…”

“Eventually, Walter Smith came in and decided not to give fouls in training. In general, I think the sole purpose was for Ronaldo. So when Ronaldo was 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. 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.”

On Tuesday, former Scotland, Rangers, and Everton manager Smith passed away at the age of 73 after fighting sickness for months. He enjoyed a short stint under Ferguson during the 2003-03 season and will be always remembered for being part of Ronaldo’s career.