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Breaking the Silence on Ronaldo

[Warning: Long article.]

It’s been one hell of a week. I finally get to break my self-imposed silence on Ronaldo. So I’ll start without too much of an elaborate prologue.

The story so far
Ever since the Champions’ League final Ronaldo has been constantly linked with Real Madrid, and the link, which last season was tenuous at best, has become ever so heavy with each passing day. It has now been whipped up to a crescendo of deafening proportions — thanks to the Great Spanish Hype machine also cheerfully fellated by the likes of the Sun and the Mail (even the Telegraph and the Guardian.) But let’s get back to these trifles later and talk about the person in question.

Ever since the Champions’ League final we’ve been treated to a range of quotes: “I’ll stay”, “I am going to stay but you never know in future”, “I always like to play in Spain someday”, “I will make my decision in two-three weeks” and finally, “I want to play for Real Madrid but only if they match United’s valuation”. About the last quote, don’t come up with a “how can we rely on that one?” It’s a direct quote attributed to Ronaldo. Mind, I haven’t talked about quotes from his agent, or Calderon or United or “undisclosed sources”. All the above quotes have been, at some stage, made by Ronaldo. And if this was not said by him someone would have come forward and rubbished it already. If Ronaldo didn’t say this, though, then it’s even worse that he hasn’t found the need to come forward and clear the air — so there you have it.

So what do I think of Ronaldo, now?
I have always loved Ronaldo, the player. I’ve never bothered for the arrogance because at United we’ve seen how having a bit of the arrogance can actually work to your benefit as long as you have your game foremost in your mind. I felt Ronaldo was robbed of the young player award in the World Cup because of one act of waving the invisible card. I’ve also been someone who has always respected his desire to join Spain some day because it’s his dream; I don’t debate that and I take him on his word. So when these rumours first started catching steam, I said to myself: Ok, he wants to leave, but let’s hope SAF convinces him to stay for just one more season so we can plan for a Ronaldo-less United.

But then slowly things changed.

Ronaldo made noises in the press that were uncertain at best. Whilst one could feel sorry for him initially when the press badgered him ceaselessly to get a word out of him, there comes a time when you’d have to say, wait, this doesn’t seem right. Ronaldo, it’s obvious to me now, is playing the press into his advantage to most likely get a bigger pay packet. But I am not disappointed in his asking for a bigger contract [he’s had a phenomenal season]. What I am terribly disappointed in is the way he’s shown scant respect for the club and the fans.

Now I’ve seen many who say that he didn’t say anything to elicit such a response from us fans — which is exactly my point. Him not saying anything clearly makes things all the worse. The rules for a player looking for a move — or at least the right way — would be to discuss with the club first before making statements. It’s obvious the club want him to stay. He’s signed a five year contract just a year ago and the club have also issued a statement expressing ire over the way Real Madrid are making their moves.

If Ronaldo had an iota of respect, he would surely see the underhanded and illegal nature of Real’s pursuit of Ronaldo. Instead he sets deadlines about making his decisions when United have said, he’s going nowhere. Who does he think he is? The club don’t want to sell, the player doesn’t have the bottle to even make a clear cut statement that is not ambiguous in anyway. Just say that you want to leave for Madrid, period. Or say that you will stay for another season at United. Say something concrete. We obviously know United will sell if Madrid meet their valuation. [Fun fact: United have not set a valuation for Ronaldo. They just don’t want to sell him.]

So he is playing the media into his own hands, and shockingly, a lot of people haven’t seen that. He enjoys being at the centre of it all and he is holding out for a bigger contract from either parties. I’d still like to think that he genuinely wants to play for Madrid because it was his dream, but I can’t do so anymore because it doesn’t seem like that.

Again, I am not going into what Ronaldo’s mother said, nor have I gone into what Calderon said because I don’t rate them at all. I rated Ronaldo and thought despite the cosmetic preening and arrogance he had a good head on his shoulders. The adulation he got from our fans in the midst of everything that was hurled at him, the way he was protected by SAF and Queiroz into becoming the man that he is now is not something he will have anywhere.

United made him the player that he is. We got two really good seasons out of him which is a good return on our investment. I am not for one moment thinking that he owes us another season — I do think he could stay for another season, but I won’t hold that against him. But his prima donna act by diverting the entire press from our greatest season after ’99 and the general lack of class and professionalism has burned my bridges with him forever.

Regulars on here, would know that I am not one for jumping onto a players’ back that easily. This was a painful one. I was frustrated with Rio Ferdinand when he delayed his contract negotiations, but in my heart I thought hey, let’s give him a chance. He took a while and redeemed himself over the last two seasons. But even if Ronaldo stays for another season at United I will only cheer him because it helps the club win. Nothing will change my opinion of him from now on barring extraordinary circumstances. Staying for one more season would be alright, but it won’t be any different to me if he moves on. So what if our season suffers? Is that all this game is about? I’m sorry, but I think we went 26 years without a title — that did not diminish the enthusiasm from our fans. And as long as Sir Alex is at the helm, I think we can punt safely on us doing alright with or without him. We may have a few hiccups without him next season, but it’s a small price to pay if you think about it. It’s better having players who want to play for the club, rather than having some half arsed performers.

I am embarrassed to be honest, and it certainly is a kick in the teeth for Manchester United fans. If you think otherwise, then let’s agree to disagree.

So will he stay? What do I think?
I think he will stay for another season. Real Madrid would have to pay over £100m (plus a decent player) to prise him away and United would be crazy to demand anything less; we’ve paid over the odds for the likes of Carrick and Hargreaves. So why not overcharge for Ronaldo? On the bright side, though, it’s only United who have anything to gain from this. Keep him, and they still have the “best player in the world” for another season. Sell him, and they make tons of money to buy up talent. I leave the part of the unforgiving Madridista crowd; the hard fact that he might have to concede penalty taking duties to the likes of Raul and Ruud; and having to share free kick duties from the likes of Sneijder, for another day. I will also leave the part where I wish good luck to Ronaldo expecting Raul and Ruud to do the donkey work that Rooney and Tevez made — often to the detriment of their own game. I won’t hold all this against him.

Why I didn’t talk about Ronaldo all week?
Mainly to avoid adding to the considerable noise already created in the media. It was very easy for me to talk about Ronaldo — that’s what everyone is talking about. I got stick, in the comments, for telling people to not talk about Ronaldo. Well, I didn’t stop anyone from doing that, and it was a personal decision. So sorry if it came across that way.

Closing words…
This was a painful week. It’s hard when you slate a player who has given so much joy. But I’ve had my reasons. And I’ll stand by it, unless I see something redeeming from the player. And staying at United for another season and performances on the pitch next season won’t be considered “redeeming”.

So good bye Ronaldo. Thanks for the memories. I’ll see you either in the reds of Manchester or the Adidas whites of Real Madrid [good luck with the CR7 Nike deal while playing for Madrid] next season; doesn’t matter which team now, does it?