Cristiano Ronaldo ‘has a different head to everybody else’, according to former Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri – who says the Portuguese has the best mentality of any player he has worked with.
Allegri managed Ronaldo during his last year as Juve boss in 2018-19, and the pair enjoyed a fruitful relationship in their short time together.
Ronaldo scored 21 goals to help the Turin giants to another Serie A title, but even the five-time Ballon d’Or winner wasn’t immune to being the butt of the playful Allegri’s jokes when things didn’t go his way.
Having also coached AC Milan to the title in 2010-11, Allegri has worked with his fair share of superstars.
“I had a lot of strong players, with strong mentality,” he told The Times. “Defenders like (Giorgio) Chiellini and (Alessandro) Nesta, midfielders like (Gennaro) Gattuso and (Clarence) Seedorf and strikers like (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic and (Cristiano) Ronaldo.
“Ronaldo is the top player for mentality. Ronaldo has a different head to everyone. He’s won five Ballons d’Or, five Champions Leagues and one European Championship for Portugal, and that is so difficult, and it’s always him being the difference. Every year he has a new objective.”
After some time away from management, Allegri has outlined his ambition to manage in the Premier League – and he explained his methods of working with players.
“A coach should not create anxiety for players. If you start only from your ideas, your credo, and you don’t start from the quality of the human material you have in your hands, I consider that a big mistake.
“The game is decided by players. I agree with other trainers that the team has to have the organisation, and tactics, but it is important that the individual plays well.
“I can see from how a player is running how he feels. “Body language tells you a lot. The same thing when you go to the paddock before a race and you see the horses moving. If you understand horses you can see who’s feeling best. I have this opinion about the similarity of horses and people.
“Racehorses are athletes as well, with the disadvantage that they can’t speak to you! So you have to read the body language.
“The trainer has to be a psychologist. 80 per cent is psychology, 20 per cent is tactics. We need to look in players’ heads because they’re young, they’re ‘children’.
“We need to speak to them every day, know everything about them, understand their problems. The problems of an 18-year-old boy are different from a veteran. When the trainer has to put a player on the bench, it’s important the player has faith in the trainer. The first quality for a coach is psychology.”