Following Cristiano Ronaldo three years on

Author: Doron

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When a player leaves a club, you’re never quite sure exactly what to do. Is it wrong to still have an interest in him or should one be solely focussed on those who represent your team? The circumstances surrounding a departure often dictate which route is followed as does the status of the player. There’s no right or wrong way but many United fans have gone down the route of continuing to idolise Cristiano Ronaldo.

As a fearless and slightly arrogant 18 year old, Ronaldo announced himself to the Old Trafford crowd with an infamous cameo off the bench against Bolton. He brought something United hadn’t really had since the early Giggs years – pace, unpredictability and excitement. It didn’t take long for fans to work out that they were watching the making of a special player – a willingness to try something new, get whacked and have immense bravery. The fact that he became vilified by opposition fans so quickly only further strengthened the bond between player and home fans.

Having been gone from Old Trafford for three years, United fans seem to finally be back in love with him, and rightly so. At present, he’s in a group of footballers who are unquestionably the best at the game. He can take a lot of credit for Portugal’s progress through to the semi finals of Euro 2012 and Real Madrid’s La Liga success last season. The timing of his recent successes has played a big part in the love-in.

Last season was one of huge frustration for United fans – the team lacked a killer instinct and lacked regular attacking flair and/or quality. For a change, plenty of opposition fans wanted United to win the league, anything to stop City. Yet, at the same time, the best player the club have had, probably in the 21st century, the kind of player the club could do with now, started his own campaign to break goalscoring records and quell the love for Messi.

Ronaldo of course had gone two years at Madrid without a league title. The move of his dreams had been good but not exactly gone to plan. Individual awards, which matter to him a lot, had been going to the Barcelona players – he wasn’t the top dog in Spain. United fans have found it easy to get behind him again and want him to dethrone Barcelona, particularly given the lessons Barca have handed out to United recently.

Oddly, for someone with such a gigantic ego, he’s at his most normal when he reflects on his time at United and talks about Ferguson. He says all the right things, praising the staff, the fans, the club and never rules out a return to United. He appears well aware of the fact that he was genuinely loved and clearly enjoyed being the biggest star in both the club and the league. It’s hard to see that he’ll ever return – United can no longer afford him and Real Madrid are at present a better team. Still, one can harbour some misplaced hope.

With 91 goals in his last three seasons for United, he hinted that at his peak, something special would happen but scoring 146 goals in 144 games for Real Madrid is beyond what anyone could have imagined. Ferguson’s even joked that at £80m, Madrid got a bargain. (Probably true, not that we’ve used the money productively). Now at his peak and most consistent, we can look back and be proud that our club played such a huge part in his development. For example, United’s coaches noticed that he could be lethal in the air, he was tall but lanky and so they worked on his jumping and aerial power. The result was terrifying.

Not everyone likes Ronaldo – plenty dislike the ‘show’ that comes with him, his greasy look, and the all-round individual obsession. For example, I remember being disappointed that having scored the stunning breakaway goal at Arsenal he went neither to Rooney (the provider) to celebrate nor the United fans – rather he ran away from the fans and assumed his familiar pout so all attention was on him.

Three years on and finally able to accept that we sold a virus to the mob, I find it incredibly easy to both back him and get nostalgic about what we once had. Looking at United today the side are probably more of a collective unit than when Ronaldo was at the club but are certainly worse off without him. Obviously my focus goes on United but I’m delighted he’s a league winner in Spain and I love that he’s still hated by many. Watching him play for United was a privilege and I hope we’ll unearth another gem like him some time soon.

5 Comments on Following Cristiano Ronaldo three years on

  1. @pat-rice – I’m not sure that’s true. I think when he left we were in denial about how good he was and only now when everyone talks about Messi vs Ronaldo we feel the need to get behind him

  2. @Pat-Rice, that is not the case at all. We valued him immensley, sang his song for the duration of games, begged him to stay when he wanted to leave. We gave him the prized no.7, was one of our highest earners, built a team around him in Rooney and Pizza Face.

    We all feel privalaged to have witnessed his genius.

    The club also valued him, we had to let him go for £80m – I wouldn’t exaclty say that “we didn’t appreciate a player”.

  3. @Pat-rice can’t disagree more mate he was idolised at united and fans were left gutted when he left. We fought to keep him for 2 years but in the end we sold the mob the virus. He almost single handedly won us some games after he returnded from 06 world cup and being public enemy no 1 made united fans adore him even more. Only now that he is not playing for united will non united fans admit he is world class

  4. He was a great player for UTD – no question.

    BUT he was also a one-man-band and the example of the breakaway goal against TheArse is relevant.

    Furthermore, SAF had a better collection of players to surround him with – especially the back five:

    VDS > DDG (more-or-less a wash in terms of talent but Edwin was immensely experienced)
    Evra 2008/9 > Evra today
    Vidic 2008/9 > Vidic today
    Rio 2008/9 > Rio today
    Giggs 2008/9 > Scholes today
    Scholes 2008/9 > Scholes today
    Wes Brown 2008/9 > rb today (whoever that might be !)
    CR7 2008/9 > Nani/Young today
    Michael Carrick2008/9 = Michael Carrick today
    Rooney 2008/9 = Rooney today
    Only Valencia today >Tevez 2008/9

    So, while I can indulge in “revisionist nostalgia” about the departure of CR7, the realist-in-me knows that the collectivity was far, far better in 2008/9.

    To me, a far more interesting question might be: what could UTD have done with the 80,000,000 ? For me, the answer was the same then as it is now – buy Daniele De Rossi !

    Since 2006 De Rossi has been the very best box-to-box midfielder in the world – yeah, I know, Pirlo and Xavi are pass-masters but De Rossi (like Keane-o) offers more. Even in the EuroFootie this year, Pirlo has been getting the raves but De Rossi has been TheMan – moving between sweeper and defensive midfield, he has held the back line together and linked it with the attack.

    By my reckoning, with De Rossi UTD would have won six EPL titles on-the-trot and I would have expected better performances in the last three CL tournaments, too.

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