Derby's Robbie Savage denies spat with Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo

16 February 2009 10:40
The pair clashed in the first half of the match played at Pride Park after Savage got the better of Ronaldo in a tussle which left the Portuguese World Player of the Year on his knees.

Appearing agitated, pictures show Ronaldo spitting in Savage's direction as the Derby midfielder tries to help him to his feet - Savage then appears to recoil.

Adamant nothing happened, Savage said: "If you have got pictures showing that sort of thing it was definitely something I wasn't aware of.

"I've got absolutely no problem with him. Nothing happened."

It is not the first time this season Ronaldo has reacted aggressively to being challenged on the pitch. Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken of what he calls "systematic fouling" on the winger whereby clubs persist in tackling the 23-year-old until it looks like he is diving.

Ferguson expressed his concern for the 'fad' last November after United's Champions League clash against Villareal when Joan Capdevila was shown a red card after catching Ronaldo's left knee with a wild tackle ten minutes before the end of the game.

"The systematic fouling on Ronaldo is what is happening now,' Ferguson said. 'It's a tactic. One player fouls him, then another, then someone else. Eventually the referee thinks he's diving all the time.

Ferguson has however insisted that if Ronaldo wants to accept his position as one of the world's best players he must also accept being more of a target on the pitch.

"Of course I can understand Cristiano's frustration," he said following a bust up with Middlesbrough captain Emanuel Pogatetz. "But that's the penalty for being a great player. He has to understand that."

Ronaldo's recent spats:

Stoke City's Andy WilkinsonRonaldo was subjected to a series of tough tackles and fouls which, though leading to Wilkinson's dismissal, also saw him deliver a petulant kick to the defender's foot. Fortunately for him the referee missed the incident and no action was taken against him.

Tottenham Hotspur's Michael DawsonAgain Ronaldo escaped disciplinary action after kicking out at Dawson. He was seen to flick in the defender's direction after being dealt a challenge he deemed to heavy. Mike Dean denied seeing the incident and on review of the television replays said he Ronaldo's actions would not have warranted a red card.

Middlesbrough Emanuel PogatetzThe pair clashed repeatedly during the clash which was started, according to Ferguson, by Pogatetz who grabbed Ronaldo round the neck. Almost coming to blows on the pitch they continued to fight in the player's tunnel at half time.

Source: Telegraph