Fergie: Ronaldo is no cheat

Fergie says the only cheats are the players trying to kick the Portugal international out of the game.

Ferguson told News of the World: “Cristiano had an operation in the summer which was the result of consistent tackling on him but that hasn’t deterred him – he is just a naturally brave boy.

“It never stopped Maradona or Pele. You don’t think of injury when you have a ball at your feet because you want to do something with it

“And that’s not getting recognised properly. He is wanting to do something with the ball and fans are chanting ‘cheat, cheat’ at him but who is the cheat?

“Who is cheating football? It’s not Cristiano. How do we know who the cheats are in this game? It’s stupid – it’s a stupid game.”

Ferguson continued: “What you are finding now is that supporters are helping teams to get away with what they are doing.

“At Villa, every time Ronaldo was tackled the fans were screaming at him but you have to handle that and the boy is handling it very well.

“I thought Villa got off with murder and the crowd got to the referee.

“In fairness to Villa they did it well. They got three or four bodies around him and there was systematic fouling by each one at a time.

“But that’s our country for you I’m afraid.”

He said: “If you go at the pace he goes at and there are two and three bodies around him and clicking at his heels and they are getting at the side of him, where does he go? What does he do?

“The speed he’s going at, it’s inevitable he will lose balance – no question about that.”

He added: “”All the great players over the years – the Maradonas, Cruyffs, Peles – they all took a kick.

“It didn’t deter them at all. I remember wee Jimmy Johnstone at Celtic. As soon as he was fouled he’s take the free kick quickly and go straight at the defender who had just fouled him to let him know he wouldn’t be bullied by him and Ronaldo is prepared to do the same thing and take the ball immediately.

“I think his courage is a natural thing and you don’t lose that even if you get an injury.”