The bond between Ferguson and Ronaldo is strong. Ronaldo still referred to the Scot as ‘The Boss’ long after his exit for Real Madrid in 2009. Ferguson implored Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford, knowing he will be feted as a hero. The alternative would be to tarnish a reputation that, if anything, has grown even bigger as United struggled to recapture former glories since Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
Ferguson’s words followed up encouraging messages from Ronaldo’s former team-mates Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra. Another former team-mate and current United technical director Darren Fletcher was mentioned to BBC Sport as also being part of an orchestrated charm offensive, which also involved Ronaldo’s Portugal team-mate Bruno Fernandes.
By the time Solskjaer spoke to the media, Juventus coach Max Allegri had already told the world Ronaldo was leaving the club. The deal, in effect, was sealed.