Gary Neville: Cristiano Ronaldo is a “bully” and a “monster”
Manchester United news: Gary Neville says Cristiano Ronaldo is a “bully” & “monster” that cannot be stopped
Manchester United great Gary Neville has described Cristiano Ronaldo as a bully and said he will prey on weak links in a side ruthlessly.
Neville was speaking ahead of the UEFA Champions League last 16 clash between the Old Trafford side and Real Madrid, the first leg of which is on Wednesday at Santiago Bernabeu.
Neville played with Ronaldo the entire six years the Portuguese was at Manchester United and said he changed the former right-backs perception of the modern game.
Neville, who now doubles as an England coach and a television pundit, warned the Red Devils that the 28-year-old will exploit any weakness they show at the back.
He also recalls how Ronaldo would make the difference in countless games for the Red Devils.
“Ronaldo is a bully. He bullies the weakest defender. He does it all the time,” Neville told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"He changed my perception. We had a midfield four - Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs - I played with Beckham for seven years.
“They never had the freedom to decide their position on the pitch. Suddenly I didn't have someone in front of me who would come back and double up on the [opposition's] left-winger.
“In those early years he used to go wandering off. He was told to play on the right by Sir Alex Ferguson and would end up on the left. That was unheard of.
“By the end of Ronaldo's Manchester United career I was willing him not to chase back so he was free.
“He just decided his own position, which was based upon where the space was and who was the weak link. He made me realise you didn't always need to be in your shape.”
Wednesday will be the first time Ronaldo has faced his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson since making the £80million move to La Liga in 2009.
It is likely to be an emotional occasion for a player that Neville described as the best he had played with.
“We had a player who was beyond a level of talent I had ever seen. He would go and win us game after game,” he added.
Despite holding Ronaldo in such high regard during his time at Manchester United, Neville feels he has improved since his world record transfer.
Real Madrid defeated Sevilla 4-1 on Saturday and Ronaldo scored hat-trick, the first of which was especially good.
Neville referenced this strike in describing how good a player Ronaldo has become and how it is almost impossible to stop him when he is on his game.
“Now, he is a monster. I saw him on Saturday evening. He picks the ball up in an innocuous position, 30 yards out, does some type of shimmy I can't even describe let alone do, beats a man and whacks it in from 25 yards,” he said.
"You can't defend against that. Then he scores a counter-attack goal when he chases 80 yards forward, then he preys on the back of the centre-half and scores a hat-trick inside 30 minutes.
"You literally need to have two men against him. Even then they might both get beaten.”