Gary Neville: Cristiano Ronaldo bullies opposition defences

The former Manchester United captain says that the Real Madrid attacker can already be compared to the game's greats ahead of the Champions League meeting between the sides
Gary Neville says Cristiano Ronaldo "bullies defenders" ahead of Manchester United's Champions League trip to Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The Portugal international played alongside the ex-defender for six years before leaving Old Trafford for Spain in a world-record £80 million move in 2009.

And Neville has hailed his former team-mate's ability to "bully" opposition defences, as proven by his display against Maicon in Madrid's 3-2 win over Manchester City earlier this season.

Speaking in his capacity as a McDonald's ambassador to publicise the 2013 FA Community Awards, he 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."

Neville says the 28-year-old changed his perception of positions in football and believes he can already be compared to Brazil legend Ronaldo and three-time World Cup winner Pele.

"In those early years he used to go wandering off," he said. "He was told to play on the right by 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."

He added: "The Real Madrid crowd are unforgiving. They spent £80m on him but look at the contribution he has made. He is scoring more than a goal a game.

"He is in the same bracket as Messi and you can put them both up there with Pele and Maradona.

"I don't get emotional about these things but I feel privileged to have played with him."