Fergie cheered by rousing reception for Ronaldo

September 17, 2008

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes the reception Cristiano Ronaldo received during the goalless Champions League draw at home to Villarreal will have convinced the player he made the right decision in staying with the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Empics / MikeEgertonCristiano Ronaldo tries to force in a header

United fought off concerted pressure from Real Madrid to hang on to their star winger and the Portugal international, coming back from an ankle operation, made his first appearance of the season as 62nd-minute substitute.

Ferguson expected the Old Trafford crowd to be generous in their welcome but he felt it was important for the player to hear it for himself.

"He has had a turbulent summer and a lot has been said about it but when I had my meeting in June in Portugal with him that was over,'' Ferguson told Sky Sports.

"He dedicated himself to getting fit and his commitment to the club.

"It (the crowd's reception) was important for Cristiano.

"I think he realises what a great club he is at and how loyal the fans are. He will take great encouragement from that.''

Despite the disappointment of a draw in their opening Champions League match, Ferguson was relatively happy with the performance from a team which included a number of players short of match practice.

"I thought we did well,'' said the Scot. "The players expressed themselves well, Jonny Evans hit the post and Ji-sung Park should have had a penalty in the first-half.

"There were also a number of players who will benefit from the game such as Park, Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Gary Neville, so that is positive as well.''

Ferguson confirmed record signing Dimitar Berbatov faces a race against time to be fit for Sunday's meeting with Chelsea.

The 27-year-old suffered a knee injury in Saturday's defeat at Liverpool which ruled him out this evening and it seems doubtful he will be available for the weekend either.

"He has a little tweak behind the knee,'' he said. "We did not want to take a chance tonight and really it is too early to say for Sunday.''

Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini admitted United posed more of a threat after Ronaldo was introduced.

"He did cause us one or two problems,'' he said. "Ronaldo is obviously a great player but he was quite fresh as well and we had one or two tired legs out there.''

In fact, Villarreal came closest to scoring through Guille Franco, who might have done better going for goal in conventional manner rather than attempt the audacious flick that bounced back off the inside of a post.

"It is a difficult one,'' said Pellegrini. "In a situation like that you have a millisecond to make a decision.

"It would have been a great time to score and if it had gone in we would have been talking about a fabulous goal and a great decision to do what he did.

"Unfortunately he did what he did and the ball did not go in.''