The basis for this very short piece lies in a phone call received from my brother after work today, which comprised predominantly one-way traffic on his part, proclaiming all that was great about Ronaldinho and how he would be joining Manchester City in the summer. He never seems to be aware of the hyperbole created during these conversations.
Indeed, the fact that the story was on the BBC website, quite a reliable source — WMD’s aside – when this blue trundled through the front door and flicked on the laptop, only served to whet the appetite in some ways.
That said, one can’t help but be pessimistic in some ways. While writing this, the atmosphere of the partisan locals as Glentoran take on Linfield in the Setanta Irish Cup match is clearly audible, and it is hard to believe it is ten years since City were plummeting into the second tier of English football for the first time playing at grounds not too dissimilar to the Oval.
Back then, Frank Clark brought players such as Barry Conlon and Tony Scully to Maine Road, while Ronaldinho was probably just about emerging through the Brazilian youth set-up at Gremio with another 4 years to wait until that famous 40-yard free-kick that caught David Seaman on the hop in Japan. Reminiscent of the day when George Weah and Paulo Wanchope were brought in by Joe Royle, one can’t help but feel excited when stories like this leak out in the press on the premise that the Brazilian’s representative was joined by his Brother for the weekend defeat to Chelsea. Furthermore, one only needs to look at City’s goal return post-Christmas to see that the club could definitely use the talents of this superstar.
While listening to the news described during that phone call, though, this Citizen felt an underlying current of cynicism pervading through his weary system. Perhaps it was the monotony of hearing him every day through the January window of how we had £150m to spend in it from Shinawatra. (Not to suggest that we don’t indeed have this kind of money to spend, but not for a second does this Citizen expect to see it spent in one window) Perhaps it was guessing the response from the fans of our near neighbours, who didn’t duly disappoint on various message boards scanned after the story with their all too familiar brand of derision. Perhaps it was the knowledge that we did indeed entertain Chelsea at the weekend and thoughts of Roman Abramovich’s admiration for the playmaker. City were linked with a host of players in the early 2008 window; Luis Fabiano, Lukasz Podolski, Wagner Love spring to mind and last but not least, Nicolas Anelka. Of course, we all know where the Frenchman opted to go despite recent claims from Eriksson that City pushed hard to land ‘Le Sulk’, not that one could blame him for choosing Chelsea at the moment.
One final aspect of the cynicism crept in, which probably sounds unbelievable considering the types of signings made in 1998 and may well mean that this author needs an aspect of the psychological ‘reframing’ mentioned by Nick Leeson in his book ‘Back From The Brink: Coping With Stress’. Maybe that’s the case, no doubt the more optimistic Manchester City fans reading would subscribe to this particular view.
However, it is largely brought on by the signings of three particular players — though there are no doubt more and that applies to most clubs. It is akin to the hype of 2003 in some respects, when Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Trevor Sinclair were signed from Real Madrid, Leeds and West Ham respectively. Undoubtedly, Ronaldinho is in a different league to these three, but they are examples and Manchester City fans won’t need reminding of the way these players failed to deliver, or how galling it is that 2 of them will most probably be appearing in the FA cup final this season when at Eastlands we were lucky to get 2 consecutive matches before any of them landed back in for physiotherapy. They were brought in to complement the likes of Anelka and Shaun Wright-Phillips (finding myself reminiscing about the days when they were on our side at the weekend, the curious mind wandered to a comparison of Claudio Reyna and Michael Essien when it queried why Kevin Keegan’s team couldn’t produce back then) and take the Eastlands club to the next Premiership level.
Anyhow, without intending to digress, it is more a curiosity of Ronaldinho’s current state. The lack of Sky access for this author doesn’t make him an expert on Spanish football at the moment, but reading the imperious writings of Subhankar Mondal and Hugo Steckelmacher on that particular league don’t fill him with too much joy. Nor do various articles recently depicting the Brazilian’s downfall and how Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi are by far and away the predominant protagonists in Barcelona’s team nowadays. Maybe the fact they are behind Real Madrid more often that not in the current climate is linked to the playmaker’s complete loss of form, one wouldn’t claim to know too much about this issue, but what would he bring to the Premiership right now, even if it’s Premiership rigours at Stamford Bridge? Think Shevchenko, and the signings referred to above illustrate at times why it can be wrong to sign players purely on reputation.
Then there is the fact alluded to earlier but this time with AC Milan. It is no secret that the Italian giants have courted the South American for a long time now, and they can offer European football at the moment, like Chelsea.
On the whole, it was just a brief writing to see what people thought of this story. Is there anything in it? Would it be possible to accommodate Ronaldinho into the 4-5-1 system that Eriksson is so reluctant to discard? If he does end up joining Manchester City, would you be excited about the knock-on effect of other star performers being attracted to the blue side of Manchester? Would you be excited to see him in the Premiership at all?