Fergie defends Ron: United abhor diving culture

December 6, 2006

Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted there is no diving culture at Manchester United.

The Red Devils manager launched a passionate defence of winger Cristiano Ronaldo amid allegations he cheated to gain his side a crucial penalty against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Having watched the incident countless times on video, Ferguson is adamant referee Chris Foy was correct to give the spot-kick and said there was no way he would ever support a player who deliberately dived.

'We do not condone diving at this club and Cristiano is well aware of that,' said Ferguson.

'But I have looked at the incident a million times and Cristiano lost his balance completely.

'It is difficult for players who run as quickly as he does. For instance, if you were driving at 70mph in a car and another car comes out in front of you, do you brake or carry on?

'Don't forget, last year at Manchester City he got sent off for intent, even though there had just been two disgraceful tackles on him, while Steven Gerrard got a penalty at Sheffield United at the start of the season, again for intent.

'The interpretation is down to the referee but, to me, it was a clear penalty.'

Ronaldo's reaction to the bombardment of questions over his conduct at the Riverside suggested he felt he was being treated unfairly.

And his condemnation of Boro boss Gareth Southgate, who branded Ronaldo a cheat, was fairly forthright.

'He (Southgate) stopped playing football last year. He needs to understand football much better,' said the Portugal winger.

'I realise people criticise me for anything I do. They love to do that ever since the World Cup. But it doesn't bother me.

'When I go on the pitch, I do what I love, which is play football and do my best for the team. That is my aim.'

Ferguson needs Ronaldo fully focussed and on top form this evening as United look to avoid a calamitous Champions League group stage exit at the hands of Benfica for the second straight season.