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How Gary Neville riled Cristiano Ronaldo on purpose when he was Valencia manager

Gary Neville
Gary Neville

Gary Neville says he wound up Cristiano Ronaldo on purpose during his time as Valencia manager.

Neville endured a forgettable spell as Los Che boss, which lasted less than four months and resulted in him being sacked.

Yet one high point for the former Manchester United defender-turned-pundit was a 2-2 draw with Real Madrid at the Mestalla Stadium.

Neville employed some sneaky tactics in the buildup to the match, asking for the ground staff not to cut the grass.

And it worked, with Ronaldo confronting his former Red Devils teammate before the game.

“What I remember most about that game was our tactic of leaving the grass really long and we didn't water the pitch so the ball wouldn't travel as quick in the hope of slowing down Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale," Neville told the Off Script podcast (opens in new tab).

"It was like a farmer's field.

"Cristiano came over to me before the game and said; 'It's a disgrace, cut the pitch' - I said; 'Absolutely no chance'.

"There was no way he was dribbling that night."

Ronaldo didn't score on the day, although the Portuguese had the last laugh as he went onto net an incredible 450 goals in 438 appearances for Madrid.

For Neville, while the 2-2 draw with Los Blancos was a relatively good result, he admitted that the 7-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey was "humiliating".

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