Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has branded Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo a 'bully' who preys on the weaknesses of defenders.
Neville will be in Madrid on Wednesday for Ronaldo's reunion with United. The mouthwatering Champions League showdown with Real offers Neville a chance to remind himself how privileged he was to have spent six years playing alongside Ronaldo before the Portugal star left for Spain in a world record £80million deal.
Speaking in his capacity as a McDonald's ambassador to publicise the 2013 FA Community Awards, Neville said: "Ronaldo is a bully. He bullies the weakest defender. He does it all the time. He did it to Manchester City against Maicon. He will play on the left wing. If he can't get on the ball he will play centre-forward, midfield, right wing."
Indeed, so unconventional was Ronaldo during his time at Old Trafford that he completely changed the way Neville thought about the game.
"He changed my perception," he said.
"We had a midfield four - Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs - I played with Beckham for seven years. They never had the freedom to decide their position on the pitch.
"Suddenly I didn't have someone in front of me who would come back and double up on the left-winger. In those early years he used to go wandering off.
"He was told to play on the right by Sir Alex Ferguson and would end up on the left. That was unheard of.
"By the end of Ronaldo's Manchester United career I was willing him not to chase back so he was free.
"He just decided his own position, which was based upon where the space was and who was the weak link. He made me realise you didn't always need to be in your shape. We had a player who was beyond a level of talent I had ever seen. He would go and win us game after game. I suppose that is more important."