Friday, 21 August 2009

Ronaldo: Few Tears Shed

After initially stating that he wouldn’t sell Real Madrid a virus, Sir Alex Ferguson finally decided to cash in on his most valuable asset for a cool £80m, allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to make the move from Manchester to Madrid which he had so vehemently desired since the previous summer. While some United fans lament the departure of Old Trafford’s talismanic number seven as irreplaceable, it appears Ferguson could not tolerate Ronaldo’s prima-donna personality much longer.

Nevertheless, beyond the exasperating theatrics and egotistical nonsense for which Ronaldo became increasingly notorious for was a statistical freak of a footballer, a wide forward with the goal-scoring rate of a world-class striker. His unquestionable ability as an individual match-winner was evident on numerous occasions last term for United, while his sometimes overzealous desire for victory can render the twenty-one other players on the pitch almost superfluous. However, when his risible tantrum at being substituted in the Manchester derby was further exacerbated by the unnecessary criticism of his manager’s tactics after defeat at the hands of Barcelona, it seemed Ronaldo had already packed his bags. It is worth remembering that much of the current United squad was built using funds from the sale of the previous number seven, who also lost favour with Sir Alex Ferguson and was also shipped off to Real Madrid for a substantial sum.

Despite his statistical success, there are a number of reasons why the magician from Madeira did not achieve legendary status among much of the Old Trafford support. Unlike his much coveted predecessors such as Cantona, Keane and to an extent, Beckham, Ronaldo never experienced the warm bond between audience and performer that culminates a United favourite. His tendency for melodramatics and play-acting opposed the predominantly Corinthian sporting values preached by Premier League, and while he is undoubtedly close to becoming the proverbial complete footballer, Ronaldo does possess a chronic inability to keep a cool head and track back when necessary.
Conversely, it seems there is every likelihood of the Winker flourishing under the bright lights of the Spanish La Liga. Following the recent re-election of Florentino Peréz as club president, Real Madrid have reverted to their infamous Galactico recruiting policy. Consequently, Ronaldo will have plenty of competition when it comes to who can moan the loudest in the Bernabeu dressing room. Moreover, Sir Alex Ferguson operates Manchester United under a siege mentality as a means of generating team cohesion and togetherness as a unit – the direct opposite applies to Galacticos, who ooze the kind of individuality and glamour that would cause Sir Alex to choke on his chewing gum. At Real Madrid, Ronaldo will now literally be in the same league as the worlds most complete footballers such as Xavi, Puyol, Iniesta and fellow Galactico, Kaka.

The explicatives describing Cristiano Ronaldo flow flawlessly off the tongue: scores goals with both feet from distance, possesses strong heading ability, can dribble at pace. Combine those qualities with his astronomical merchandising value and a decade of top-flight football ahead of him, it seems Madrid may have got themselves a bargain.

“Looking for Eric”, the film directed by Ken Loach was released in cinemas last week. Looking for Cristiano? Try Madrid.

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