Man Utd do the continental/domestic double for the second time in ten years and immediately speculation jumps on CR7 leaving the club for Real Madrid. Like many fans I found myself torn on this -- I've loved watching Ronaldo grow as a player and help us win these trophies. However, how is it right to deny a guy the right to change jobs? In the business world personal contracts don't mean much. If a CEO wants to leave, he can -- a company can buy his contract out and really do you want a guy that doesn't want to be there? How good will CR7 be if he's upset and unhappy? And this talk of sitting him for four years....that's beyond stupid. Let's get nothing for him, have him be unhappy, our fans be unhappy and us not win. Great plan. Hurting someone else never makes you feel better (unless it's Liverpool lol).
On the one hand, Ronaldo is an amazing talent and fun as hell to watch. As great as he was last year, he was by far a better player this year. He tracked back on defense, his freekicks became truly special and his penalties (well, until the last two...) were solid. Early in the year he was involving his teammates more, but as the goals piled up that stopped.
This is the part that's painful as his ego has gotten worse and his inevitable World Player of the Year trophies will only make things worse. He is starting to believe the hype, which is fine, but at times he almost expects to be given 2-3 goals just for showing up. I'm not saying he's lazy, or doesn't work hard. I'm just saying you can see that his attitude is changing at times. Against Barcelona he expected to be given a hat-trick because he's Ronaldo, but football doesn't work that way. You still have to play..and last time I checked Barca are a great team. The penalty he missed really said it all -- he was shocked that something didn't go his way.
We saw him really get (more) selfish down the stretch as he sought to break the club record for goals in a season. It's one thing to hog the ball and scoring opportunities when you're playing the likes of Birmingham, Aston Villa, West Ham, but quite another to do that against Lyon and Barcelona.
Now the criticism isn't to say I hope we get rid of him -- I'd welcome him back to the team with open arms, even with his faults...to a point. The fact is Ronaldo is beginning to put himself above the team and no player is above Manchester United. If memory serves me it was our defense and depth that really won both trophies this year and while CR7's goal was obviously important, Edwin van Der Sar was the ultimate hero.
Manchester United has lost many stars over the years -- Cantona, Best, Schmichael, Keane, Ince, Beckham, van Nistelrooy -- and we've always managed to bounce back. It's inevitable that one day, either this year, next year or the next, or the one after that, Ronaldo will leave Old Trafford. It's always been obvious that he wasn't a United lifer. Not just because he's not English -- Cantona & Schmichael weren't either, but you knew they were destined to always be Red, if if Schmichael finished in Blue. Something has always told me that CR7 was one to move around. And there's nothing wrong with -- it worked well for Baggio and many others. Sometimes players to be shared -- their abilities are too great for one single club, even Manchester United.
It's not necessarily about selfishness. Some guys just want new challenges. Like I said if Ronaldo wants to leave, I'm ok with it. I will wish him well and buy a shirt and root for him...except if he crosses paths with Man Utd.
Do I like what Real Madrid are doing? No, but Man United can't cry foul on this -- we're just as guilty as tapping up Owen Hagreaves and Carlos Tevez last year. And anyone remember Wayne Rooney coming from Everton? We just sold Gerard Pique back to Barcelona after snagging him for nothing from that club several years ago because of Spanish rules forbidding youngsters to sign contracts. It's the nature of the game. As it is we've quietly tapped up Karim Benzema from Lyon, and have pretty loudly tapped up Dmitar Berbatov and we'll no doubt do it again.
I honestly think Ronaldo's last moments with United were winning the Champions League trophy and if that's the last memories of him in red, that's completely awesome. He did all he could for us -- 2 Premiership titles, a Carling Cup and most important a Champions League trophy.
If he wants to leave, let him leave. Yes he has a contract and it would be nice if players honored them, but let's be real -- there is no guarantee that a team will honor a contract. If you have a bad year, it's just as likely that you'll be transferred. There's no mercy here and players have short careers to do everything they can. If Ronaldo wants to play for Real Madrid who can blame him for wanting to do so in his prime?
Manchester United won't be the losers here -- any deal for CR7 will break every record and we'll restock. Remember when Beckham left, he was replaced on the right side and the number 7 by Ronaldo. If any of the rumored deals Madrid have offered are true -- 50-100M euros plus some combination of Robinho, Sergio Ramos, Mammadou Diarra, then Manchester United should take it. Robinho can take the left side with Nani moving to the right. Ramos moves Wes Brown to the bench. Diarra can rotate in midfield with Carrick, Anderson, Scholes and Hargreaves. And most important that huge transfer loot can pay some debt and be used to buy Benzema, Berbatov (honestly if we file a complaint with FIFA about Real tapping Ronaldo I would hope Tottenham do the same to us), or Huntelaar, or even Ibrahimovic.
Any fan that wants to scream and yell at Cristiano Ronaldo for (possibly) wanting to leave Manchester United should ask themselves one thing -- if John Terry hadn't slipped and had instead made that penalty kick giving Chelsea the cup instead, would you be yelling at Ronaldo not because of his selfishness or lack of loyalty, but because he's a "choker?" I think most fans would support him, but there would be an awful lot wanting him to go.
If after the World Cup in 06, he didn't have such a breakout 07, would you have raged for him to go? What about loyalty then? Here was a kid that had every opportunity to leave -- playing on a team with a player he supposedly got red-carded (absurd claim BTW), ridiculed as a one-trick pony, who had suitors in Spain. Ronaldo showed his loyalty to us then -- he stepped his game up, he stayed, he put up with constant booing and he earned a huge contract.
The contract is the final piece here -- people harp about the contract. Does anyone else remember Dida's new contract with AC Milan after winning the Champions League last year? He played horribly, lost his starting spot (rightfully so -- he was awful), and now Milan is rumored to either demote him to #3 or buy him out. What about his contract? Shouldn't he be given the chance to earn his job back? Where's loyalty there?
If Ronaldo were to be injured in the Euros this summer, United would have to pay him, but undoubtedly if his injury was for more than a month or two, they would get a replacement. What if that player was really good? What if Ronaldo came back & was tentative and slower off the ball? What if his scoring touch left him? I guarantee he would be benched or loaned out. Loyalty seems to only be asked by and expected of those able to provide something. Gary Neville has been a loyal player for years and United will no doubt let him stay & ride out his career and talk about "club loyalty," but the fact is Neville will almost certainly not be given a chance to earn his RB spot back. Giving him the captaincy back & a shot to take a job he never lost back is loyalty, not paying a guy because you have to because he has a contract. Giving a guy a contract when he's down is loyalty. United has shown loyalty in the past -- standing behind Ole Gunnar Solsjaekar is just one example, but tossing Roy Keane under the bus because he blasted the team isn't loyalty. Question -- if Keano said that in 96 in his prime, what then? Is there any doubt that he would've been fined and that would be it? It's real easy to take a stance on a guy that's finished.
Are Real Madrid villains? I don't think so. It's easy to cast them as a team just stealing players, etc, etc, but really they're no different than any other big club. The fact is what they're doing is acceptable in today's game. Let's just get that out of the way. You can argue morals, but the fact is EVERY big club does this. Yes, even you Arsenal! You snatched Fabregas from Barcelona and didn't pay them anything, so don't play innocent. You can harp about Milan "stealing' Flamini, but this is the same as when you "stole" Fabregas. Flamini's deal was ending and he was free to sign with his next club early. If you wanted to keep, maybe you should've resigned him in September.
Madrid see a great player that has publicly acknowledged his desire to play in Spain and for Real in particular. Why not tap him up? Especially when he can generate a lot of merchandise sales? They're not going to "steal" him from Man Utd any differently than we "stole" him from Sporting. A fee will be paid and a replacement found.
I love Manchester United and always will, no matter who is in charge, where we play, who owns the team, or who plays on the team. But I won't say my team are saints or take their side no matter what. The fact is you lose the right to claim the high road when you've taken the low road on other occasions.
So I say Cristiano Ronaldo do what he wants and Manchester United get the best deal possible for him. Ronaldo isn't looking to screw Man Utd over -- after all every player enjoys garnering the biggest price and having players exchanged for him. We'll be fine -- we're not selling a Ferrari at Honda prices, chances are we'll sell it at McLaren prices and get a lot more in return either money, players or both. Robinho is a great player, Rooney and Tevez can step up their scoring, Nani and Anderson will develop even more. We'll be fine -- we have the trophies and history to prove it.