Cristiano Ronaldo may have had more respect for Benni McCarthy during his final months at Manchester United than fans in South Africa might have given him credit for.
During the latter days of CR7’s second tenure at Old Trafford, supporters on the continent suggested—albeit light-heartedly—that Benni and Ronaldo weren’t entirely on the same page.
As Marcus Rashford began thriving under McCarthy’s tutelage, so Ronaldo struggled to find the form that had once made him the darling of the Old Trafford terraces.
The England international embarked on a campaign that has seen him net—so far—14 goals in 26 league outings, while Ronaldo was packed off to Saudi Arabia having scored just one league goal before his relationship with United became untenable.
According to a recent report in the Daily Express, however, Ronaldo was understood to have been enjoying his coaching sessions with Benni during his final months at Old Trafford.
The report suggests that CR7 took part in the finishing sessions organised by Benni with the club’s strikers upon his arrival at the club, and actually enjoyed them.Getty
It was reportedly Bruno Fernandes who urged McCarthy to undertake specific sessions with United’s underperforming forwards in order to try to refine an area of their game that hadn’t been as sharp as it ought to have been.
“Ronaldo regularly attended those sessions and enjoyed the work,” the report states, “prompting a variety of players to work with McCarthy and take onboard his methods.”
Jadon Sancho is one of those players name-checked by the Daily Mail as having sought out extra insight and coaching from McCarthy in order to improve some specific areas of his game, although with only five goals in all competitions so far this term, it remains to be seen whether Benni is working his magic with the 22-year-old as he is with Rashford.
Speaking to the media earlier this year, Erik ten Hag shed some light on exactly why Benni’s methods are having such a big impact on the Red Devils’ players.
“I think the most important of course is the way of play that gives him base and structure and the way of play is in his favour,” the Dutch coach began. “I knew his skills.
"You also bring staff around who can make him better and make him progress and he can get motivated from.
“I thought we needed one of the staff who was specific for strikers and Benni is doing a good job,” he added, “but don’t forget others in the staff because it is about teamwork. The staff is about balance. It is not only about Benni McCarthy.”
Ronaldo’s time working with the former FC Porto and Ajax striker may have been brief, but potentially—as indicated by the Express—CR7 may have played a role in getting United’s strikers to buy-into McCarthy’s methods and take part in the head coach’s sessions.
Perhaps Ronaldo, too, was responsible—in his own way—for Rashford’s current renaissance under the Bafana Bafana all-time top scorer…