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Jul 7, 2006

Scolari angry at treatment of Ronaldo

Luiz Felipe Scolari has defended Cristiano Ronaldo over Wayne Rooney4s sending off and the never-ending diving claims.

The tournament has done little to improve the midfielder4s reputation as a youngster who would do well to improve his behaviour on the pitch.

His antics appear have cost him the Best Young Player Award, which was handed to Germany's Lukas Podolski instead.

Portugal take on Germany in the third-place match tomorrow, and with pressure mounting on Ronaldo, Scolari has jumped to his defence.

Asked what he thought about the persistent diving accusations, Scolari replied: 'And Thierry Henry doesn't dive?

'One of Ronaldo4s best characteristics is his dribbling. He is a very good dribbler. Just like any other players he sometimes falls down which is very common and natural.

'But he is not what every journalist calls him. He is not a diver. There are many players that are much worse and they are pictured like saints.'

The former Brazil boss has credited Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as the main reason behind Ronaldo's superb development.

'Ronaldo has been having a great tournament,' hailed Scolari. 'He has improved a lot and developed more skills, also since joining Manchester United and working with Ferguson and (assistant coach) Carlos Queiroz.'

Scolari, who has not yet made up his mind on a potential contract extension after the tournament, believes there is still a lot more to come from the 21-year-old.

He continued: 'He is on the path to become one of the best players until and in the next World Cup, if not before that.'

The charismatic coach believes it was the player's problems with the English media which cost Ronaldo a better finish in the Best Young Player Award.

Scolari added: 'I would have chosen Ronaldo. But he has this issue with the English which is totally absurd. Any referee in the world would have given that red card to Rooney in that situation. It was not Ronaldo4s decision.

'I feel sorry for him.'

Scolari fears the playmaker might become a target if he continues to play for Manchester United.

The coach observed: 'There might be problems in England now with the fans and the pressure.'

Furthermore, Scolari confirmed that Portugal will be without injured defender Miguel (knee) and suspended centre-back Ricardo Carvalho when they clash with tournament hosts Germany in Stuttgart tomorrow.

'I will make three or four changes depending on the injuries and suspensions,' said Scolari. 'I have a lot of respect for Jurgen Klinsmann and all the work he has done.'