This morning, half-asleep, I read the news that Ronaldo had said after the 3rd-place playoff that he was going to leave Manchester United (If you haven’t read the news, see the BBC coverage).
Please tell me that this is a bad joke.
In the last 10 days (ever since Spanish daily Marca came out with quotes from Ronaldo stating that he was ready to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid), the English media has turned on Ronaldo like a pack of dogs fighting for their last scrap of meat. No opportunity has been missed to deride Ronaldo – from his involvement in Rooney’s red card to his admission after the quarter-final that he had talked to Villar Mir to his running dive (when he ran for a cross, jumped, missed it, landed on his feet and dove forward into the penalty box without any contact) and now, they wll gang up on him for being a whining, crying cheat to the extent that even legitimate fouls against him might not be given.
The blogosphere, the online media if you will – is no different. You only had to look at NewsNow’s Manchester United feed a few days ago to see that of the 20 or so top stories, 18 were on Ronaldo. And all of them were negative (I’ve read them – a waste of time really, but I read them). Every non-Manchester United England fan around the world is lining up for a chance to take a cheap shot at Ronaldo. And with the spotlight shining directly on him, his diving has elicited extremely sharp responses from the media, with the English once again leading the charge to fight against what they consider “dirty foreign players”.
Some perspective required
This is a 21-year old kid who has been under extreme amounts of pressure in the last two weeks. Despite the criticism (and constant booing in the last two matches) he’s been Portugal’s best player in the last three matches – against England, against France and last night against Germany. His diving has been a case of great concern; not only is it cheating but it turns football into something other than a game of skill.
But what of the other divers who have gone unnoticed? Klose against Sweden, Podolski, Lahm and Ballack against Italy, Lahm and Podolski again last night against Portugal…the Germans have been no saints, with Ballack one of the chief culprits in the dark arts of simulation. The same goes for Grosso and Totti for Italy, Henry and Ribery for France, Asamoah Gyan for Ghana, Robben for Holland, Cole for England…the list goes on and on and on.
You’d think that when people talk about diving they would mention how even the big stars (Ballack and Henry) who are considered role-models for the sport are now resorting to playacting and throwing themselves to the ground as if shot.
But no. Everyone is rounding up to throw a Maxi Rodriguez-like punch on Ronaldo. His dive against France (and the one against Germany last night, where he had the dubious distinction of diving only once in the match) labelled him as a cheat in the eyes of millions, and seeing how it came right when the English media was dying for another excuse to bury him, you would have been surprised if the reaction was any less.
People like Alan Shearer and Steven Gerrard can sit on their high horses and blame Ronaldo, but what about their own actions and their own teammates?
Is it fair for any player to go up to the ref and demand a card for an opposition player when he has committed a foul? It’s a bloody regular fixture of football now, whether in the Premiership (Chelsea, Arsenal and United are guilty of it as well as other clubs) or anywhere else.
So Ronaldo’s biggest fault was to ask for a card against his friend? I would imagine then that the matter should have been solved between those two friends and not in a biased public court where Ronaldo’s faults were magnified to such an extent that people forgot that they themselves have been guilty of such crimes.
The English team is not full of honest players. Gerrard? Dived against Hungary in the warmups. Cole? Sweden. Terry? His cynical tackling and bullying of the ref does not do him much good.
Why the criticism of Ronaldo’s actions against England is unfair
Let’s hope the next season brings more of this…
There has been a lot written about the incident involving Ronaldo and Rooney and people seem to have gotten it completely wrong.
First, the ‘moment’ before the match started.
Ronaldo is seen to whisper something in Rooney’s ear as he walks by him, with a headbutt feint from behind. Rooney doesn’t see it, but from his reaction afterwards there was absolutely no indication that this was non-friendly. You only have to go back to their history in Manchester United to realise that these are two kids who’ve almost lived together for the last two years and are not only teammates but also good friends. Surely you guys will allow these guys that much of banter between them?
Second, the card incident itself.
Ronaldo’s only mistake of the whole game. You don’t go asking for your friends to get cards, and that was, to quote Rooney’s statement, ‘disappointing’. But at the end of the day, you also have to realise that the responsibility lies with the official and not with the players.
But let’s be clear on one thing – what Ronaldo has done is exactly what Petit was doing standing right next to him – screaming his head off at the ref to book Rooney (or, as Ronaldo put it, objecting to the severity of the foul). He’s not done anything different from what’s been going on in the Premiership (or in football) for so many years now. You’ve seen it at the World Cup as well – everyone tries to get opposition players booked. It doesn’t make it right, but you can’t single Ronaldo out for it.
His fault then, was to go ask for his friend to be booked. That makes it a problem between Roo and Ron (and Manchester United) and none of our bloody business, doesn’t it?
Third, that wink to the bench.
The wink could be anything. It could be part of a conspiracy to get Rooney sent off (if so, was it with the blessing of Scolari?), or it could be as a response to something someone said from the bench. The fact is we don’t know, and jumping to conclusions is just feeding our desire to blame someone else other than the players themselves for England’s loss.
Manchester United and Ronaldo – at odds?
NOTW reports that Ronaldo’s house was vandalised after England’s loss to Portugal in the quarter-final. That’s hardly a surprise. It also reports that Manchester United are willing to provide extra security for the young winger in case he is threatened further by fans. Ferguson has repeated said that there are no problems with Ronaldo, and boy wonder Rooney has been reportedly asking Ronaldo to come back to Old Trafford so that they can ‘put things behind them’ and stop with this nonsense.
Ronaldo has been quoted as saying the following:
I think I should get out of Manchester as the circumstances are not right to keep playing there.”
“Nobody stood up for me, although I did not do anybody any harm. In two or three days I’ll decide where to go.”
And when he was asked the usual bait question about Madrid…
“I always said I wanted to play in Spain.”
It al points to a player under tremendous pressure who is not helping his cause because of his ambition and desire to be part of something great. He has seen United struggle (by their standards in the last three years) and while loyalty demands that he stay, he’s seen Madrid’s glamour and glitz to be the answer (how many young kids at the age of 16-17 wanted to play for Madrid? Once again, Ronaldo’s just 21).
I’m not giving excuses for Ronaldo’s behavior. For me, he should shut up and come back to Old Trafford and thank his stars that he has a club like Manchester United behind him. As for the ‘no one stood up for me bit’, to my knowledge Ferguson has already publicy stated that there will be no problems with Ronaldo and so has Rooney. If Ronaldo has asked for a public defense, this is as good as it gets. You are forgiven, and you are wanted back home.
Will Manchester United now sell Ronaldo to Real Madrid?
For a United fan, this is like Robben going off to Madrid – one of your best, but also most infuriating, players is being poached by another club. Unlike Chelsea though United don’t have the depth in their squad to replace Robben, nor the money to go out and buy another 20 million winger. The amount of money United have invested in Ronaldo has yet to be recovered, and I doubt that even a 20 million transfer fee would offset it.
Ferguson will return from South Africa in the last week of July. Ronaldo is due to report back to Old Trafford in the beginning of August. Before then it will all be agent-speak and what not, because unless those two have showdown talks, Ronaldo is not going anywhere.
There are also rumours that the United board wants Ferguson to get rid of Ronaldo (maybe that’s what Ronaldo is referring to?) and despite the source (The Sun), it’s not inconceivable that United want to get rid of a player who will give them bad publicity.
But Ferguson won’t agree with that one bit, and everyone in and out of Manchester United knows that. He backed Ronaldo over RVN, and even if he’s said RVN should report back to training on July 28 United are still looking to sell him off in order to raise enough money to buy Torres. Ronaldo and Rooney are Ferguson’s golden boys – he wants to build another ’90s’ team around them, but that can’t be done if Ronaldo leaves.
Speculation though, is pointless. We know that Capello will make an offer, but it will eventually depend on what Ferguson says to Ronaldo when the two meet. I’ve said it before – Ronaldo may want to leave Manchester United, but not because he’s not happy there. It’s his ambition that’s driving him away, and Ferguson will have to do something drastic this summer to turn things around.