Fergie tips Ronaldo to bag all best player gongs
Sir Alex Ferguson has tipped Cristiano Ronaldo to be crowned world player of the year in December - but revealed he could leave his star man out of Tuesday night's Champions League clash with Celtic.
After scoring 42 goals last season, Ronaldo has already found his shooting boots this term, rattling home his fourth of a season that did not start until mid-September in Manchester United's comfortable weekend win over West Brom.
Given United were crowned kings of England and Europe last May, Ronaldo is odds-on favourite to land the FIFA world prize and the prestigious Ballon D'Or, for which he headed the list of nominated players released over the weekend.
Ferguson cannot see any justifiable reasons why both honours should not come Ronaldo's way.
However, the Red Devils chief feels Ronaldo has not quite recovered from the ankle operation he had in the summer. And after a conversation with former assistant and current Portugal boss Carlos Queiroz, given the swift turnaround, Ferguson is tempted to let Nani loose on Celtic instead.
"Cristiano will win both player of the year awards, I am sure of it," said Ferguson.
"If he doesn't, I want to sign the guy who does.
"But Carlos feels Cristiano is still finding it hard to recover from a Saturday game to a Wednesday.
"I need to look at this game and the fact it is on a Tuesday and assess whether to bring in Nani."
Not that Ronaldo will meekly step aside to let Nani in, no matter how close his relationship with his fellow countryman.
Ferguson saw how the 23-year-old responded to Gary Neville's query about his wellbeing at Old Trafford on Saturday and knows he faces a delicate decision.
"I thought Cristiano was starting to show signs of tiring so I asked Gary to see how he was," said Ferguson.
"Ronaldo said he was feeling it a bit and maybe it was time to come off. Five minutes later he told Gary he felt good. Maybe it was the thought he might be coming off.
"But you will find that. The type of human being he is and the type of athlete he is, he always finds something extra."
Ferguson reported Ronaldo is feeling no pain from his troublesome ankle so, long-term, he has no fears for the former Sporting Lisbon star.
However, his endurance and ability to raise his level game after game still needs working on, hence the Scot's dilemma.
"Cristiano is coming on terrific now," said Ferguson.
"He was magnificent on the Saturday against Sweden but when Portugal played Albania last Wednesday he was a bit flat.
"It is simply because of the recovery thing."
As Nani also scored at the weekend, and is far fresher, the option is an attractive one, although Ronaldo's class is a major counterweight.
"Nani only played for 36 minutes for Portugal and 15 for us on Saturday so he is nice and fresh," he said.
"When you get so many games in a row after an operation like that, the adrenalin helps you out once but then it dips.
"But the thing about Ronaldo is that with one flick he can score because he is such a talent in the box."
While Ferguson's dilemma will probably not be resolved until an hour before kick-off, he does not intend to spend any time worrying about Ronaldo's subdued reaction to the 95th goal of his United career.
His response has been viewed in some quarters as an indicator Ronaldo wished his dream move to Real Madrid had gone through this summer.
Ferguson, who persuaded him to stay, is not getting involved.
"I read that stuff," he said. "I am not even going to answer it."