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Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008

Fergie sees red over Real's Ronaldo claim


Staff writer

YOKOHAMA — Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has rubbished Real Madrid's claims to have reached a deal with Cristiano Ronaldo over a summer move to the Bernabeu, saying he "wouldn't sell them a virus."

Reports in Spain quoted a Real director as saying the Spanish club has struck a pre-contract agreement with the European player of the year, drawing a stinging rebuke from an irate Ferguson.

"Do you think I would enter into a contract with that mob?" he asked after his side had beaten Gamba Osaka in Thursday night's Club World Cup semifinal.

"I wouldn't sell them a virus. That's a no. There's no agreement between the clubs."

Ferguson's anger is a legacy of what he perceived to be unacceptable conduct from Real during its unsuccessful summer pursuit of the Portuguese winger.

The Scot has since accused Real of buying Gabriel Heinze from Old Trafford in 2007 solely to grease the wheels of a future deal for Ronaldo, and brought up the specter of former Spanish dictator General Franco in branding the club devoid of morals.

Ferguson was in no mood to soften his tone on Thursday.

"Real Madrid will blame anybody but themselves for their problems," he said.

"I said to (chief executive) David Gill when we sold Heinze that you can bet yourself the Cristiano thing would start up again. I said to him it will start again in January.

"We have to ignore it because we can't keep worrying about them. We need to concentrate on our own publicity and our own form.

"There can be anger in this situation and we can get annoyed. But there's no point. We know their game and it won't affect us."

Ferguson was much more at ease discussing Wayne Rooney's explosive contribution to the 5-3 win over Gamba.

Rooney came off the bench in the 74th minute to spark a late goal frenzy, and Ferguson believes the England international has the potential to be just as effective at center forward as he is in a deeper position.

"His movement and strength and penetration are very good," Ferguson said.

"The goal that really killed them was the third goal, and he made two runs that were really clever. It marks out the quality he can give you in that position and he will improve from there."



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