I guess this is one way to toughen up a young player like Cristiano Ronaldo, who likes to dribble and perhaps dive on the ground after he thinks he's been fouled. When Ronaldo first arrived at Manchester United he got upset when he thought he was fouled at training, but Ferguson had a plan to make Ronaldo stronger. It involved Roy Keane...which is a scary thought to begin with....but the intention was to try to help Ronaldo become a better soccer player in the long run.
This comes from Manchester United's former goalkeeping coach Tony Coton's new book, "There To Be Shot At." Cristiano Ronaldo had one flaw as a young soccer player, "his habit of falling to the floor like a rag doll every time he lost a tackle."
"These games were intense and no prisoners were taken. Poor Ronaldo didn't know what hit him as teammates he'd been sharing a joke with him gave him the kind of treatment that was no laughing matter.
When a free kick was not forthcoming, he'd throw his hands up in outrage and sit on the turf muttering Portuguese curses while the game continued around him.
Toughened pros like Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand would lambast him for being soft. It was tough love and slowly but surely, the message began to seep into our winger's consciousness." ESPNFC
But is the best way to toughen up a young soccer player? It's hard to question a manager like Alex Ferguson, and it seemed to work with Cristiano Ronaldo, as he went on to become the best soccer player in the world, but I still wonder if the message could have been sent with kicking your best player?
Sure, it was probably just a little rough play, and Keane wasn't going to hurt Ronaldo but he could have accidently. I'm guessing what also helped a young Ronaldo was he got a lot stronger physically.
Ronaldo was pretty skinny when he arrived at Manchester United, so I imagine Ferguson made sure he spent time in the weight room building muscle so he could handle the beatings he was likely to take in the English Premier League. Not only did Ronaldo get stronger but he gained confidence from lifting weights and putting on some muscle.
It took some time though for Ronaldo to learn how NOT to always fall on the ground every time he was touched. And he still loves to dive even now, playing for Real Madrid. Really, if it's in your game as a young player it's hard to get rid off it, especially when you're near the penalty box and you get the slightest touch.
At a certain point players know that Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player on their team - the best player in the world, so he's going to do what he wants to do in practice and you certainly don't him to get injured if one of his teammates kicks him too hard. And the club is going to get upset if they spend all this money on a young player and he's hurt in training.
Perhaps it's the job of the refs to change the rules of the game and give out more yellow cards to players who dive or fake injuries to get calls.