Sir Alex Ferguson convinced Cristiano Ronaldo to sign for Manchester United over Manchester City with a simple phone call, according to a report.
Ronaldo has proved crucial for United following his move back to Old Trafford from Juventus this summer. While he has scored four Premier League goals, his biggest influence has come in the Champions League.
Indeed, he has effectively won the Red Devils all seven of their competition points. He scored winners against Villarreal and Atalanta, before salvaging a point against the Italian side on Tuesday.
However, this season could have been panning out very different for the 36-year-old.
He was in talks with City over a move to join Pep Guardiola’s side. In fact, at one point, it looked as if they were going to win the race.
However, a crucial intervention from United legend Ferguson put a stop to that transfer.
The Daily Star has now revealed details of Ferguson’s actions which left City chiefs feeling ‘stunned’.
Ferguson called Ronaldo and ‘ordered’ him not to move to the Etihad Stadium ‘under any circumstances’. He reportedly said “Don’t join City”, before simply hanging up.
Ronaldo responded to the message and took up the opportunity to return to Old Trafford.
He understood how keen United were to bring him back to the club where he made his name.
Overall, Ronaldo has netted nine goals in 12 games for the Red Devils this season. He made an instant impact on his second debut, scoring twice in a 4-1 win over Newcastle.
Some observers have claimed that United only made their move to Ronaldo to stop City from signing him. In any case, Gary Neville recently highlighted a problem which he brings to the team.
Neville highlights Ronaldo, Man Utd problem
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that, given his potential impact, Ronaldo will be crucial to start most games.
But Neville feared for his former club subsequently having to – and struggling to – adapt to a change in style of play.
“With it comes big positives, but with it also comes problems. Ronaldo had to be managed shall we say,” the pundit said.
“In the 2008 Barcelona semi-final away from home, Cristiano Ronaldo was shoved up front on his own, and Rooney and Ji-Sung Park were shoved wide, and Tevez was brought back to [mark] Busquests.
“You couldn’t carry him in the big games because he generally doesn’t work hard enough. So he’s playing up front now – you’re never going to press from the front. So the idea that Manchester United can become a pressing team with Cristiano up front is never going to happen. He wasn’t pressing 10-15 years ago.
“It becomes difficult when you’re playing against teams that are inferior to you most of the time. So what you get is teams like Aston Villa and Everton counter-attacking,” he added.
“A half-decent team against Manchester United will cut through them. That’s a problem, they’ve got to stop that.”
United face City in a crunch Manchester derby in the Premier League on Saturday.