MANCHESTER: Real Madrid fans have yet to see the best of Brazilian striker Ronaldo, says his team mate Steve McManaman.
World Cup-winner Ronaldo kept the Spaniards on course to retain their Champions League title with a stunning hat-trick in Wednesday's 4-3 second leg defeat to Manchester United.
Those goals proved crucial as Madrid edged out the English side 6-5 on aggregate in a compelling contest.
McManaman insists Ronaldo, who cost US$44.2 million from Inter Milan last summer, is set to consign four years of injury hell to the dustbin and regain his mantle as the world's top striker.
“You haven't seen the best of Ronaldo,” he told reporters. “He will improve with the more training he does.
“He came to us with lots of scrutiny and missed pre-season and it took a while to get into it.
“There are no reserve team games at our club – when you can train you can play– so it was very difficult (for him) to get his fitness levels up to the very high standards.
“It benefits you running about in training and working hard but when you don't get a chance to play, and you haven't played for two months or have been out injured for six months, your first game back will be in front of a big crowd at the Bernabeu and that is not ideal preparation.”
McManaman openly admitted his frustration at failing to hold down a first-team place at Madrid during his years with the Spanish side.
But the English midfielder did come in from the cold to play a major role in Manchester United's elimination.
The former Liverpool winger believes Vicente del Bosque's side will need all their versatility to overcome the challenge of the Italian opposition that stands between them and a third European Cup triumph in four years.
Real face Juventus in the last four, while AC Milan take on rivals Inter Milan in the other semi-final next month.
He added: “I don't know if we will win it (the trophy). Three Italian teams have gone through and they play a completely different type of game to us.
“Our next opponents, Juventus, are flying high in Serie A and (AC) Milan beat us earlier in the competition.
“The Italians play a different type of football and we will have to deal with it.” – Reuters