Friday, 24 October 2008

The Ronaldo Saga - Redux


The Ronaldo saga, possibly the most tedious bout of “will-he-won’t-he” transfer talk ever, was the bane of most United fans lives over the summer. Here we were, champions of England, champions of Europe, and all anyone wanted talk about was whether our Portuguese winker was going to join Real Madrid.

Two months into the new season, it is still a big theme amongst United fans, who still rarely sing Ronaldo’s song and are quick to criticise every slip and every piece of neutral body language. In doing so, those same fans are turning Ronaldo’s possible move to Real into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Before I explain in more detail, let’s look back and try to apply a bit of perspective. A lot of conflicts came to the fore during those two months of hell. United V Real Madrid, United v Marca (the Spanish newspaper acting as Real’s unofficial mouthpiece), United v Fifa, Fergie v Calderon, Fergie v Ronaldo…the list goes on and on, and very exciting and dramatic they all were at the time. Or something.

The most tragic, though, was the conflict that developed between Ronaldo and the Manchester United fans. Tragic because within two weeks of that glorious night in Moscow, those fans who had loved Ronaldo like a son, who had publically praised his every move, who had revelled in his meteoric ascent to the top of the game, suddenly hated him.

The adoration turned into bile, and that bile spilled over into every sort of football conversation, from the mainstream media to the pubs to the blogosphere. Looking back on it now, it seems like such a storm in a teacup - having won nearly every honour available with United, Ronaldo was offered fabulous wealth to go and do something he’d always dreamed of doing. The United fans may have hated it, but they should have understood it.

But disloyalty is the ultimate sin for United fans. With notable exceptions like Dennis Law, it is tough to go back and find another example of a leading player leaving United at the peak of his powers and against United’s will. It is essentially unprecedented under Fergie’s management, where whole rafts of players have given United the majority of their career, leaving only when close to retirement. Or, in the case of players like Giggs and Scholes, some have literally only played for one club.

Regardless of the rational motives put before them, many fans refuse to forgive Ronaldo for threatening to leave - it just doesn’t happen to us, they think. Well, it didn’t. Ronaldo stayed, in spite of everything. He gave a very frank, very honest press conference, where he admitted that he had considered leaving, but ultimately realised that it wasn’t the right thing to do. Where he promised to give his best for United, and apologised for contributing so much to the mayhem. He also apologised in private to the United players and staff, who in turn presented him with a Real Madrid kit as a joke - the players and the management have moved on.

Many fans accepted that on face value, but needed to be shown that he was prepared to do his best for the club, rather than just waiting it out a year and agitating for a move again. So, what evidence do we have so far? Ronaldo devoted himself entirely to recovering from his injury, and did so with such success that he returned a full month early to assist United’s misfiring attack. Despite being below his best, he is contributing goals and assists on a regular basis. In his rare interviews, he talks of regaining the fans’ love.

It seems, though, that the fans don’t want to love him anymore
. They talk of supporting him out of a sense of duty, as they would any other player who wears the red shirt, but nothing more. They will not sing his song unless he scores - and then only once - and they criticise him for things they previously were prepared to overlook. On Saturday, Ronaldo hardly smiled when he scored - and he was pilloried for it.

When Fergie talks of bringing Ronaldo back, he talks of a chance to leave Old Trafford as a United legend. I think this appeals to Ronaldo - I think it is the sort of goal he understands, and a masterstroke of man management by Fergie. But it will only work if the fans are prepared to be swayed again - no player, no matter how motivated or well managed, will stay for long at a club where the fans dislike him. If they only support him out of a sense of duty, he will only perform at the level required by professionalism - it’s a two way street.

Ironically, the justification for this lack of love is the assumption that Ronaldo will join Real Madrid next summer, come what may. We’ve seen nothing to back that up. But if the Stretford End want to ensure the best player in the world leaves United at the peak of his powers, they’re going the right way about it.

It’s two months on from the start of the season, and I think the appropriate level of displeasure has been conveyed. The fans need to give Ronaldo a second chance, to welcome him back into the fold, albeit on the condition that if he strays once more there will be no redemption. If the cold shouldering continues, at some point the relationship will be sundered for good and United will lose one of the best players ever to grace the Theatre of Dreams.

What do you make of Ronaldo’s continuing alienation? Can you forgive him, or would you prefer him to leave and end the pain? Let’s hear your views.

15 comments:

Wink said...

OH! i read about this quote that applies here...

In communicating your precieved reality, you create reality.

so say that ronaldo is a prick and he really will become a prick and leave..

lets hope not... i really like him. although i like rooney more.

ancha said...

i love everyone that plays for united...and i worship those who dedicate their lives to the club ..like giggsy,ole,scholes..

coming to ronaldo...i love him...he is discplined,determined,a true professional for our club for the past few years....regarding what happened in the summer...i wont accept that he cheated our fans or whatever....we cant blame a player for having a dream of playing for real madrid , thats his personal desire...but the only thing that gone terribly wrong is his talks with media...which i think may not have come directly from his mind but from his close ones(agent etc..) tht has put the stuff in to the miserable summer media outings ..
once fergie had a chat wid him..thts when tht idiotic stuff got erased i guess..and he came to know where exactly he has to be at this moment in his career...
we cant blame him for that..as it happens with every one..when u have some close friends who are pulling strings on an issue..u tend to get in to it...(bad company!!...thats still an opinion...mine)..
for me if he stays here for atleast one more season not including this season with the same discpline,determination,professionalism..with similar stats ofcourse(42 goals!!! :P)...i would add him to my worship list ...
rite nw...i love tht lad...i will stand by him...

united 4 life....

ancha said...

penguin...
im still waiting for the fourth part of team analysis on strikers...

hope u put it down soon....

i may nt be able to post for few days to come as ill be away..
ill be back soon..wid loads of comments

keep rockin...and put up nice previews and reviews to the coming games....

united 4 life

swapnil said...

a hell nice article..ronaldo does want to go to real but for now he said he's happy to play here and its upto the fans to make him realize what he's going to miss!!!we should support him and cheer him as last season to make him change his mind.utd fans please forgive him as all of us want him here for long time!!!

thethreeRs said...

A measured assessment on the circus surrounding Ronnie this summer as communicated by a salivating, self-interested media. I, for one, find periods without matches drag depressingly and am easy prey to navel gazing that can quickly slide into full-grown paranoia.
I am 53 and cannot remotely conceive what it is like to be 22 and have practically whatever I want. I don't know what it is like to be continually questioned, often not in my mother tongue, in such a way as to elicit from me something that can be 'manipulated'. If the question is always the same one, it would probably be even more frustrating.
He is incredibly good at what he does, seems to practise a great deal, and after his operation, as yet has not been able to get back to his previous outstanding level of physical fitness and athleticism.
He has a dream, he has a widowed mother and he has grown up in a lovely warm climate so has been pulled in so many directions.
I want to enjoy his football artistry and bravery and I am determined to put the summer angst behind me and hope to see him enjoy his football again in our special club, with a squad of talented but hardworking players, given licence to attack because of an exceptional defence.

Anonymous said...

This was a well composed piece of writing. It was nice to be able to digest a refreshingly pragmatic opinion on the Ronaldo situation.

I personally believe that Ronaldo was not in the wrong whatsoever this past summer in angling for a move to Real Madrid. He's clearly an ambitious guy and he had an agenda, albeit an impractical one. Real Madrid is nowhere near United with respect to club organization (all across the board).

United fans need to be realistic here. Ronaldo is, in my opinion, the best player in the world. He never was and never will be a criminal. What I see being implied on a regular basis, online and in casual conversation, is that Cristiano Ronaldo is in fact a criminal for expressing his desire to play for a soccer team he always wanted to play for. If you need to boo a criminal(s), look no farther than Joey Barton or Chelsea F.C.

MoYa said...

An interesting and analytical view on the Ronaldo saga.

I totally agree... What pains me is to think if Ronny dedicated his entire career to United, he would most definately break all standing records and become OUR greatest player of all time.

I can understand his dream... But us fans have dreams as well...

Would hurt for one of our greats to join Real Scum.

Would have been a great joy if Ronaldo and us fans shared identical dreams...

Anonymous said...

I never liked Ronaldo too much. I never hated him for not denying the rumors (he never said he wanted to leave). His wish is completely normal and I don't understand how United fans can hate him for it.

Also it's important to note that most of it was brought up by the press.

NickOGS20 said...

Pretty much spot on that. I would maybe quibble with how much Ronaldo was at fault over the summer and with how much the fans had the right to be somewhat disgruntled, but that's been discussed to death.

What it comes down to for me is that while it was to be expected that there would be nothing like the adulation for Ronaldo from the terraces that there was last season, and even that there would be something of a concerted effort to show Ronaldo he's in the doghouse (so to speak), there comes a point where a deliberate effort to not show Ronnie any appreciation/support becomes counter-productive to the team in both the short and long-term, and that point is pretty much now.

I don't expect Viva Ronaldo to be sung with the frequency and fervour it was last season, not for a while anyway. But one incident from the Celtic game stands out for me - Ronnie skipped by a couple of tackles in his own half, bore down on the Celtic defence and played Rooney in with a great throughball. Wayne (unusually for him currently) messed it up and was lucky to win a corner but the crowd piped up with 'ROONEH, ROONEH' etc, where last season Ronaldo would have surely got deserved praise.

One final point - Ronnie could do himself a favour or two in this whole 'stand-off' between him and the fans. There appears to be a mutual sulk going on, and while I'd like to see the fans get over it, it would be nice to see Ronnie even doing something as simple as applauding the fans on his way off rather than stomping off down the tunnel in a huff.

PO13 said...

Clearly Ronaldo is upset at his current form more than anything else. He is a perfectionist on the pitch and wants himself to succeed above anything else. This drive for individual success is what makes him such a lethal player when on form.

I also feel he is a bit saddened by still being a Manchester United player. He was on top of the world last year and achieved everything he wanted to achieve. If he had not missed his penalty in the Final, one could argue that he had the perfect season. He must have thought he could control everything, and he was put back in his place he lost something that made him so special last year...that swagger.

Matt said...

I believe he's just frustrated of his current form. Just give him a couple of goals and he will be back smiling again! You don't expect anyone to not be frustrated when they are off form.

Despite his "off form", i'd say he is still bloody good!

MoYa said...

Penguin

No match preview? Match report?
Must be awfully busy man ;-p

I thaught it was really unfair for us to have such an early kick-off after a midweek game. The players looked jaded second half.
Though no excuses, really disappointed, we should have won...
We needed to kill the game off earlier.

RedSam said...

Nice article, once again Penguin. I'm very much still on the ronaldo should still be sold off side. I understand the problem that he is possibly going to further develop into the best player of his generation, and one of the best ever but for me his treachery runs to deep. To take away our time to bask in the joy of once again claiming our rightful place as the kings of Europe is a crime. To try and enforce his will on our club smacks of his true arrogance. Let him go to the corrupt whites of spain. Where he will not be treated as the king of the world, where he won't get his precious shirt number, where he won't be the penalty taker.

I honestly don't think he knows how much this team has allowed him to become the player he is. 70million pounds sounds pretty darn sweet to me right about now.


Let the punishment fit the crime.

redjack said...

I think we need him more than alot of fans care to admit. Look at the performances when he is not there, there is a distinct lack of buzz and the feeling that there is always going to be a chance created. It may happen without him but Rooney has to continue current form which in past seasons he hasn't.

This season it is in the early stages it is obvious that we missed him and also Carrick

Bornred2512 said...

Great to read a really thoughtful and well analysed article on the whole Ronnie situation. Unlike some of your other respondents I was annoyed with Ronaldo's antics and do believe fans should be entitled to expect some loyalty from a player that we have embraced and help make the star he is today. That said, we should be big enough to move on like we did when Rio yanked our chain over his last contract. Keep the blog going - it is great stuff.

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