Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Playing Ronaldo a privilege says Bruce

Wigan manager Steve Bruce claims it is a privilege to watch newly-crowned FIFA world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo but he will not be casting admiring glances at the winger tonight.

Bruce takes his side to Old Trafford having told his players to respect the Barclays Premier League champions but not to fear them.

And while he is a big fan of Ronaldo, the first Premier League player to have won the FIFA award, he knows his team cannot afford to be awestruck.

"I am absolutely delighted for him. His 42 goals in a season, the way he played and the goals he got, was incredible," said Bruce of the Portugal winger.

"How the hell he is going to get any better I don’t know.

“It is fantastic for him and for the rest of us it is just a privilege to watch him.

"Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Dimitar Berbatov - they are fantastic players and when they play together on the same pitch you know you are up against it."

The Latics have never beaten United in the seven league and cup meetings between the sides but they go into the match with confidence at an all-time high.

Wigan have won six of their last seven league matches and have lost just once - a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal on December 6 - since October 29.

But Bruce knows the United match will provide the ultimate challenge for his side, who snatched victory in injury-time against Tottenham on Sunday.

"There is a good spirit among them and on Sunday it was typical of them that they had the desire and hunger to get something out of the game," said the former United defender.

"They are a privilege to manage at the moment.

“They have the bit between their teeth and are having a right good crack at it.

"I hope they can take it into tomorrow because we are going to need it. We are in for an absolutely unbelievably tough game but one which we are looking forward to.

"It is the one where you are going to get tested to the hilt. I’ve witnessed teams who have been beaten before they even go there because they show far too much respect.

"You have to give them respect because they play to a level every week and they can handle the pressure.

"You just hope our boys can play to their maximum, enjoy themselves, take them on and make sure we don’t leave anything in the dressing room.

"I’ve never had anything going back there as a manager, nothing, so let’s hope this is the one.

"With the run we are on at the moment I hope it is the right time.

"I hope we go on to the biggest stage of all and show it is not a fluke Wigan are in the top 10."

Bruce has also warned his Premier League counterparts that no-one wins in a psychological battle with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Liverpool’s Rafael Benitez is the latest to try, alleging Ferguson does not get punished sufficiently for his sometimes outspoken criticism of match officials.

"It is fantastic radio and television. I found it humorous like everyone else," said the Wigan boss.

"There is always a little bit of banter going about and the mind games have started.

"How do you take him on? You don’t. I think that is the motto.

"He is fantastic at what he does and there will never be another. I can’t pay him compliments high enough.

"How he has managed at that level for so long and what he has done is quite remarkable.

"He still has the hunger for the fight and that is there for everyone to see.”

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