Alex Ferguson talks Ronaldo and Cantona

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Cantona was a talisman for Ferguson's Double winning team of 1996
Cantona was a talisman for Ferguson's Double winning team of 1996

Alex Ferguson has revealed that he was happy to embrace the ego of a youthful Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and believes his celebrity status helped to drive him on to success.

Ronaldo has gone on to become one of the greatest players of his era since at £80m move to Real Madrid, but he cut his football teeth under Ferguson's guidance at Old Trafford as he shed his tag as a show pony to become a world class talent.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph to promote his latest book entitled Leading, Ferguson revealed Ronaldo used to be jovially abused by his United team-mates due to his vanity, but he insisted criticism never affected his focus to succeed in the game.

"You used to see Ronaldo standing in front of the mirror loving himself, but it was a nice vanity," argued the legendary United boss.

"The players used to throw jockstraps, boots and all sorts at him. It never bothered him one bit.

“They need to win, these guys: the ones that are cultivating their egos a little bit. You might see a player in a Ferrari and think – what’s he driving that for? But he has to live with that. He’s not going to be driving into town when he’s bottom of the league, or he’s been dropped. Some people can’t judge that. True players can.”

Ferguson also spoke about his relationship with Eric Cantona, as he confirmed the United icon was a fascinating figure to spend time with.

“I spoke to Cantona every day. He was a very under-rated man and an interesting man," he added.

"He needed the encouragement that he was at the right club. And he was at the right club. On the training ground you never got one ounce of difficulty with Cantona.

"Sometimes he would come in for training with his eyebrows down and you would say – what’s wrong with him today? Once he got warmed up, into training, he was fine.

"What you have to do in management is give your trust to them, without any payback. You have to get to a situation where they’re comfortable playing for you and where, when the chips are down, you’re going to be there for them.

“You have to sell yourself to them: ‘Look, I’m here for one reason. To help you be the best you can possibly be. To be the best human being you can possibly be. To make the most money you can possibly make.’

"I think I did that quite well at Manchester United. They were my players. They made me successful. I owed them all that loyalty.”