'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned' – or so the old saying goes. Well, whoever made that up hasn't seen Sir Alex Ferguson angry.
Since the summer of 2008, Real Madrid started courting Cristiano Ronaldo in their own inimitable fashion – by trying to publicly unsettle the player while he was still at Manchester United. Not best pleased by this, Fergie devised a plot of his own to get back at Madrid.
Or so, Spanish football expert Guillem Balague says in his latest book – Cristiano Ronaldo: The Biography.
“[Sir Alex] flew to Portugal to cut off Madrid’s bid directly, he was clear that he wouldn’t allow his arm to be twisted. This was about much more than a transfer, it was about maintaining his authority in the eyes of the world.
Not a man to back down from a fight, the master politician in Ferguson came out – realising that he couldn't keep hold of his player, he went out of his way to contact Barcelona to try and convince the Catalan giants to make a bid.
“For weeks he’d pursued a Machiavellian approach of sorts, but seeing that he couldn’t persuade Cristiano to stay he made contact with Barcelona to encourage them to bid.”
We all know Fergie was a cunning ol' badger, but by Jove! this is taking anger to a whole new level.
It didn't work out and after a tumultuous 2008-09, in which he threw tantrums, scored 26 goals in 53 (he essentially played well only in the last three months) and created all sorts of drama, Ronaldo bid adieu to Old Trafford.
And was announced by Real Madrid as a then-world record signing in arguably the most well-attended announcement ceremony ever!
By the end of the fracas, Fergie had made peace with the fact that Real Madrid would get their man – as they almost always do.
“Ferguson sought a gentlemen’s agreement that he’d already run by Mendes,” Balague adds. “He wouldn’t let him leave this year, he said, but if he behaved well over the next twelve months, if he gave enough to the club and Madrid came back with a record fee, he wouldn’t stand in his way.”
Madrid came with that record fee, and Ronaldo did just enough in the last few months to drive United to the title that season. Criteria met, he was off to sunny Madrid and the majestic Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Just imagine, though, for one minute, what would have happened if Fergie had got his way.
Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on the same team... I need to go have a lie down now.
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