Darren Fletcher has opened up on a great story involving Cristiano Ronaldo and the late Walter Smith.
Former Man United midfielder Darren Fletcher has revealed an insight into how the late Walter Smith played a pivotal role in the development of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Smith worked with Ronaldo while he was assistant to Alex Ferguson at United, with the former Rangers boss inadvertently playing a huge role in the Portuguese’s development at Old Trafford.
The former Rangers boss passed away earlier this week after an illness, with tributes flowing to the former Scotland manager.
Darren Fletcher on Cristiano Ronaldo and Walter Smith.
Fletcher, who played for United during Smith and Ronaldo’s time together at the club, revealed an insight into how the Scotsman brought on Ronaldo’s talents at the club.
“You could see this charismatic kid, you could see the ability, you could see the drive to become the best player in the world,” Fletcher said on BEIN Sports.
“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.”
Ronaldo improved under Smith.
While he was left frustrated at United’s training sessions at the start, Ronaldo would come around to appreciate training tailored to improve 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.
This insight from Darren Fletcher on Walter Smith’s role in improving Cristiano Ronaldo’s game is fantastic.
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“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.
“Now it starts clicking in his head: ‘I’m starting to score more goals, now I’m starting to make an impact in games’. That was the beginning of Ronaldo’s transition.”