Dublin: Manchester United's legendary former coach Alex Ferguson believes his one-time protege, Real Madrid's star striker Cristiano Ronaldo is a more adaptable footballer than his great adversary FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Speaking at an event at the Convention Centre with golfer Rory McIlroy in aid of the golfer's foundation, Ferguson analysed the game's of the two modern greats. Ferguson coached Ronaldo at United between 2003 and 2009. Ronaldo and Messi have been routinely pitted against each other as to determine who is the best footballer in recent times. Ronaldo or Messi has been La Liga's highest scorer since 2009, highlighting how prominent the duo have been since the Portuguese star joined Madrid from Manchester United. That streak was snapped this season as Messi's team-mate Luis Suarez struck 40 times to claim the Golden Boot. “When the ball is at Messi's feet it is like he is wearing slippers. But there is a difference between Messi and Ronaldo and I'll tell you what it is,” Ferguson was quoted as saying by the Irish Independent on Tuesday. “I think Messi is a Barcelona player but Ronaldo could be playing for Stockport County and he would score a hat-trick. He is brilliant in the air and he has two feet." Ferguson also said that one of the reasons he struggled in his first few years at United was because he put a lot of focus into developing the underage structures at the club, which eventually yielded huge success.