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Cristiano Ronaldo and the fake Madrid circus

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When would be the ideal time for Manchester United to sell Cristiano Ronaldo? Right before Euro 08? After it? Next year? In 5 years?

One feels that if Ferguson met Calderon and Schuster in a jungle he’d club them to death. He’s not the only one thinking that – hordes of Manchester United fans confused and outraged by the shameless and desperate courting of Cristiano Ronaldo by Real Madrid would be glad to inflict physical harm to those who wish to take away what they hold dear.

It’s our emotional attachment to football, you see. It’s what supposedly makes us human (the emotions, not football).

Manchester United don’t want to sell Ronaldo. Real Madrid, drowning in their fetish to buy the best players so that they can hang on to the glitz and glamour of being the best club in the world, will do anything to get him over. This aggression is Real Madrid’s way – easily stereotyped as caveman machismo where you took what you wanted and beat up whoever crossed your path. Jungle rules, except that when no one else plays by those rules you are by default the winner.

In the long run, Real Madrid will win in their quest to unsettle Ronaldo and get him out of Manchester United. Barcelona are also interested but Madrid know that their dominance on Spanish football is higher than it has been in the last 5 years and this is as good a chance as they’ll get to ensure that Ronaldo comes to Madrid and not Barcelona. So…push, push, push, you bitches, push!

As for United, they will hardly fall apart if Ronaldo was taken out of their equation, but when you’re playing a long-term strategy for building a dynasty that wins many titles, Ronaldo is type of player you want to keep on-board. He has matured rapidly this season and is increasingly the match-winner that he’s expected to be, not to mention the scorer of important goals in important games.

But this all Madrid and United – what about the player himself?

For starters, read / hear the full interviews that he gives. You’ll see that most of it is about how much he wants to stay, how he loves Old Trafford and his friends there. A little bit is about ‘never knowing what the future holds’. I’d expect an extremely ambitious player to say that. He wants to be the best and play in the best team in the world, and if that doesn’t happen for him then he’ll jump.

In this way he’s a bit similar to Nistelrooy (who wanted to walk out a season before he was shipped out). Fabregas, the other young prodigy that gets regularly linked to Madrid, is less flashy but equally driven and ambitious. Both have time on their side so they’d be in England for next season, but if either team’s form was to dip for a long period of time, they’d jump.

Also, the press have turned this into a nightmare for United fans. Ronaldo’s chances of leaving have been artificially inflated by inaccurate and one-sided press coverage. When he says he’s staying, they don’t give it that much air. When he says the future is open-ended, they go into a fit and give it front-page status.

It’s bollocks.

What do you think really happens at Old Trafford? That Ronaldo says he wants to leave and Queiroz / Ferguson bribe him with toffees, ice cream and poontang? There’s a limit to which the board will go to in accommodating Ronaldo if he asks for higher wages, and despite his stellar performances in the last season he has only matched the investment made in him, not exceeded it. Perhaps if he had 1-2 more seasons this good, he would qualify for a pay raise, but you don’t renegotiate a new contract every year.

But forget the board, let’s get back to Fergie. Do you seriously think that Fergie will force a player to stay? 2 years of chasing, and Madrid have nothing on Ronaldo. NOTHING. Saying that he wants to play in Spain some day is like me saying that I’d like to tap Scarlett Johansson one day. If I got the opportunity out of the blue I’d take it, but if I was waking up to Marisa Miller and was confronted with the choice between her and Scarlett, with the obvious condition that it would be one or the other, who would I choose?

Personally I’d choose neither, because Scarlett is too demanding and Marisa is too focused on her career, but this isn’t about me…

To bring things back to football, unless you’re going to tell me that Ronaldo was born a Real Madrid fan (the journalists should go question his childhood friends now) and has ‘Los Merengues’ tattooed on his rear end and his wardrobe consists of ‘madridista’ underwear, there’s no reason for him to leave United and go to Madrid.

But he might, and the exclusive focus on that (as opposed to the far greater likelihood that he’ll stay) is driving fans crazy. Pretty soon (if they haven’t already) fans will begin to question Ronaldo’s loyalty and his inability to say no to Madrid (he probably has several times, but no one hears about that). And then this angst will grow, to the point where people will celebrate when he finally leaves (the way Arsenal fans celebrated Henry’s departure). Henry’s departure was a painful choice, I don’t expect Ronaldo’s choice to be much easier.

It would be an unfortunate way to remember a player, and it is an unfortunate climate in which to be a football fan. As much as we want to eliminate diving and ensure that the right decisions are taken on the pitch and that the game is played in good spirit (no stomping, slapping or spitting please), we also need to look at the behavior of clubs and agents (a whole different can of worms – the topic, not agents) and find a solution.

And what are they doing?

UEFA:

- are trying to make sure that all international football played under UEFA’s umbrella is NOT shown on free to air TV (how can they charge a high price for the TV rights otherwise).
- making changes to how the Champions League and UEFA Cup are structured in a measure to expand their target audience (more money), create more interesting matches (more viewers = more money) and various other small measures to ensure that as much money can be made as possible.
- while bitching about how much more money the Premier League is making.

FIFA:

- falsely accusing players of trying to injure others in an attempt to win the PR vote.
- trying to influence African football to accommodate Europe’s elite.
- are bankrolling a PR-mission called South Africa 2010 (I support the event but not the motives behind it).
- trying to count the money they’re making
- trying to bully the English FA (berating them for greed) in fear that their authority (to determine the future of football) will be undermined.
- trying to implement quotas that promote nationalism but will eventually weaken the club-system and strengthen international teams, making international football a more attractive product for advertisers.

Surely far more important concerns than dealing with the welfare of the players and the fans.

The really sad part in all this is this – while many people believe strongly in the magic of Real Madrid, the circus-like atmosphere that has existed around Madrid for the last few years shows a very ugly side to the club. The glorious picture painted is not matched by the dirty actions of their people. The past glories seem a distant memory, the present tenuously crafted in midst of turmoil, the future promises as fake and as contrived as the club’s sincerity towards the good of football.

One starts to doubt the magic. One starts to wonder if all this that is Madrid is fake. That our nostalgia is as fake as their pretensions to greatness. The only thing that saves Madrid is the football on the pitch, and that has more often than not been top notch. The rest feels fake, a house of cards built on empty promises and even emptier souls.

Will this fake Madrid take Ronaldo away from Manchester United? Time will tell, but I hope it is on Manchester United terms, and it is for Ronaldo’s good.

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Comments (23)

  1. ahmed give us a break write on the euro competition which is what everyone is now looking up to. who cares where ronaldo goes this blog and soccer in general is not all about man united. lets see what he does 4 portugal and we take it from there. the european season is over, now is the transfer season, so naturally we will hear alot of speculation, and alot more will emerge after euro 2008 depending on who impresses or fail to.
    in the interim the media will be having a field day about transfers as they usually do every summer particularly because this is euro championship year and there is the olympics in july or is it august?

  2. hold on your horses mate, you’ll soon have more euro 08 stuff than you can handle :)

  3. I love you cristiano ronaldo

  4. Can’t see Ronaldo going anywhere really. He will surely give United one more season at least.

    He will be hard pushed to ever repeat the success of this season but I’m sure he’ll try it in Manchester, not Madrid.

  5. What about ManU tapping up on Owen Hargreaves? Or was that a “normal transfer” for you eh?

  6. ManU will only sell ronaldo if when his contract reaches near the end he refuses to sign a new deal. Real could promise all the money in the world and they would still not sell him and its not because they think he is a “talented footballer”. He is the new beckham, his value from a marketing stand point is hugh, Real knows this and Manu knows it. Real has say they are will to pay what ever price manu ask even 100m because the know they will make it back. Just like they made back beckhams transfer fee before he even kicked a ball. This saga is about pure financials and not football.

  7. I find it hilarious how fergi is reacting to Real’s persuit of ronaldo. He jusk keeps showing how much of a hypocrit he is because he did the same thing to get Hargreaves. Even after we told him no and treathened to report the matter to fifa, he continued anyway.

  8. Raed,

    Knew that was coming :)

    Hargo – when did United / Fergie go on and on and on in the press about Hargreaves? They kept quiet while Bayern went ballistic. With Hargo (and with Ruud) the club made a preliminary approach through the player’s agent, they said they were interested and then United approached the clubs.

    This is how Arsenal do their business as well, unless you’re naive enough to consider that Arsenal got Walcott through official channels without greasing him / his family up unofficially.

    I’m talking about the public harassment that Madrid are doing right now. Focus, boy, focus :)

  9. Bayern fans forget that a) there was no case to report to Fifa (else they would have at that time) and that statement was just a PR stunt, and b) they themselves had approached Nistelrooy and were just as guilty of ‘tapping up’.

  10. It all smacks of hypocrisy to me really,Manure love eating that cake heaven forbid anyone stealing their share.It is all making me laugh when as far as the non Manure supporting world can see,Man ure invented the word tapping up.We all know it,they just expect us to turn a blind eye.Good to see old purple face getting even more purple with rage though…

  11. Ahmed –

    I expected better from you than this. You go on & on about not allowing yourself to be baited & you come up with this stuff.

    The truth is, you don’t know what the fuck Ronaldo is thinking. So try not to speculate too much beyond what you know & what you can prove. I think it certainly is within the realm of possibility that SAF is trying everything in his power to keep him (hence the new deal he just signed for a record salary). Wenger has done the same with Fabregas.

    The transfer market is always uncertain & it’s obvious that playing for Real Madrid is something Ronaldo has seriously though about. He’s happy now but he could still leave after just another season. Who knows what could happen? Who would have predicted that Ronaldinho would fall so far & so fast after 2006?

    What Real does is/has been done by every club in the world. Only that Real maybe do it slightly better than most. You talk as if Real’s ‘ugly’ side is something new. Let me tell you something. Every club has an ‘ugly’ side. With Real this media circus is tame compared to the fact that they have forever been associated with the Fascist regime of Franco. THAT is what i call ugly. It is why many people in Spain have cause to hate Real Madrid. The ‘past glories’ you talk about have been tainted by this fact. For a club to have something like that hanging over your head is not a pleasant thing.

    You know how the media works more than most people on this page. This game they play will keep being played long after our time. Most people know this. Save your outrage for something that matters.

    I liked the part in the article about things UEFA/FIFA should worry about more & i agree with you on most of those issues. But again you’re making the FA out to be the victims here. The FA are far from being that.

    On the contrary with the amount of power & money they have it is only natural that UEFA/FIFA should be suspicious of them. Especially with harebrained schemes like having some League matches being played on other continents just to get more TV revenue (yes, i STILL think its a moronic idea). What? Don’t have enough money already? The FA is just as greedy & corrupt as the next organisation.

    And don’t for one minute try & tell us that Man Utd are saints either. We don’t know 90% of the backroom deals that go on in this sport. This is football. NO ONE is a saint. Just be an honest fan, mmmmk?

  12. The truth is, you don’t know what the fuck Ronaldo is thinking

    True – which is what I said, right? No one knows that except himself, possibly his agent and his manager. Most of my reasoning follows from that – there’s a different between intelligent analysis of a situation and baseless speculation that the press indulges in.

    And don’t for one minute try & tell us that Man Utd are saints either.

    Why is it that whenever I criticise someone, you guys break out your anti man utd guns and open fire at me?

    You’re right, I try not to get sucked in, but I also wanted to give some perspective on this issue (think of the players, regulate club behavior, etc) that 99% of the coverage is missing. That’s part of what I do here, and you know that since the start.

  13. I’d like to point out that when & if the likes of Fabregas & Walcott got tapped or not I didn’t hear anybody complain. Now since they have turned into superstars everyone talks about them getting tapped up.

  14. Ahmed –

    Fair enough about your first point. But i’ve read enough of your articles to get a feeling when you’re really taking offence to something. If you’re really looking at intelligent analysis of this situation then its still 60-40 that he stays. He’s signed a new uber-enhanced contract, he says he loves the team & then he goes around saying ‘you never know what the future holds’. Whatever. Its enough fuel for speculation according to the current ‘media rules’. ANd with a high profile player like Ronaldo you cannot expect the pressure to be any less intense than it already is.

    What i was getting at is what you mentioned towards the end of your comment where you said you try not to get sucked into these annoying speculations. Even if i was as pissed off as you about this ‘media-circus’, i probably would have written the title & the article along the lines of something like…’Real Madrid’s dirty tricks for dummies’ or ‘crash course in media wars by Real Madrid’ & put a cynical spin on things coz that’s the way these incidents alway happen all the time. If it wasn’t Ronaldo it would be someone else.

    You want to put perspective on things, that’s fine. You want to see the 99% of stuff that’s not being covered, that’s great. In which case you probably should have mentioned that other clubs like Barcelona do the same crap all the time. Possibly do a meta-analysis of how Real Madrid does it differently from other clubs. I know very well that even my beloved Arsenal was/is quite capable of doing under-handed things (with someone like David Dein on the board for so long i’m not surprised).

    And if you thought that what i said about your team was a part of my ‘anti-man utd’ arsenal, you must think i’m the tamest critic of Man Utd there is.

    Play the game Ahmed. Stick with your tongue-in-cheek thing. Don’t get self-righteous on me now. Laugh at them, ridicule them. Don’t rage against the storm.

  15. Spiral – I’ll try to live up to your expectations better ;)

    Raed – Funny how no one complains about Arsenal right? Pro-arsenal media and all that…

  16. Aw c’mon Ahmed, that’s not fair about the Arsenal media and you know it. Real and Barca have been trying to unsettle Fabregas (and others) for the last few seasons and it’s bloody annoying now. You’re a ManU fan, of course you’re going to be pissed about Crissy first but those Spanish teams are gonna keep doing it to ALL big players.

    Though Raed should read some Arsenal blogs…of course people complain about Real’s and Barca’s and Inter Milan’s and AC Milan’s tapping up. Is it just me or do Spanish and Italian clubs invite controversy and ridicule?

  17. The whole Ronaldo ‘will he/wont he?’ nonsense bores me quite frankly.

    SAF deserves what he gets when it comes to tapping up or attempting to unsettle his club’s players, he a past master at the art. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    The only people who really care about this issue are United fans, who realise without Ronaldo they are in big trouble.

    For the rest of us, Ferguson is only having to cop whet he’s done to others for years. Move along there, nothing to see here!

  18. yeah Ahmed, nobody complained about the walcott deal at the time, that seems to be just an annoyed response at something which holds some truth. Although to be fair hargreaves spent the last five years of his time at bayern saying he wanted to move to england.
    Although i would love to see ronaldo go so that utd would have far less a chance of winning the title, if he did go i would be pissed off as well.simply because utd are in the same boat as Arsenal. I remember hearing ramon calderon saying that if cesc wanted to go to real he would have to make the first move because he doesn’t want to disrespect arsenal. so calling out a player to put in a transfer request is respectful? what a dickhead.

  19. Woaah,easy there Spiral.Looks like you’re really in for Ahmed
    The thing is,this is the new money-driven,success-crazy,glory-driven generation of football.The appeitites are insatiable.There are too many different sets of people who want everything for their team.Theres no sharing or ‘You-win-this-year-I’ll-win-the-next’.
    Add to this,that Real Madrid are probably soon not going to be the biggest club in the world.(In Asia,they’r far behind Manchester United and the Premier League.I can second this,being an Indian,90% of all football fanatics here in India support EPL teams,most of them supporting Man U)They’re not dominating like they used too in the De Stefano era,but unfortunately,they’re a little too used to getting what they want.Hence the fact that they practice underhand tactics a bit more than the others. True,tapping up is everywhere with today’s mercaneries,but the ronaldo saga has gone on far too long.Expressing your admiration for a player is one thing,making comments like Ronaldo will one day play at the Bernabeu is quite another.We havnt seen that from any other club.It is in bad taste and obviously aimed at unsettling the club and the fans,and the speculation that follows will unsettle the player.And the media plays its part in this, as is explained so well.
    However,Ahmed i do agree you are a little too biased towards Man United.I’m myself a die hard United fan,but you gotta write about these things dispassionately.
    The Madrid Magic is still there.Real Madrid is still the biggest club in the world.Scoffing at me?Well,now ask yourself,had Ronaldo been playing in Madrid rather than in United,could United have caused so much speculation by doing what Real are doing now? The fact is that Real are the only club in the world that can do this. You might say that Barca did the same with Henry, but in that case it was more about playing with the attacking power of Eto’o,Ronaldinho and Messi rather than playing for Barcelona.RVN also said That though United are a big club,Real are in a different League altogether.
    However,back to the point you raised,it sure is unfair for the player.Did Henry get the right farewell after doing what he did for Arsenal. This is an important issue which must be tackled.The solution:-Players must come up themselves,and clarify.Create personal websites and say to the fans personally that please remember the thousands of times I’ve said I wanna say rather than the one time I’ve said the future is uncertain.The manager and the team have a great role to play in this too

  20. you know what? putas, you just can’t take it anymore uh? real was is and will be the greatest club the world had ever seen. so stop this bullshit and swallow it up. as far as i’m concerned all of the hating and blaming that’s directed towards real is pure envy.

  21. who gives a toss were Ronaldo goes, sure he’s had a great season, but no true football fan can honestly say that they’re not sick of the constant playacting ronaldo has been doing his whole career, (not including Manchester Untied fans of course) All Madrid truly want ronaldo for is money – which he’ll make millions of, with countless fans buying ronaldo merchandise. seem to remember thats all they bought Beckham for?
    good ridance ronaldo

  22. I think ronaldo is not been fair to the great MANCHESER
    UNITED team and to me if he realy wants to go let him go
    but still MANCHESER UNITED will be a great club as we all know.

  23. i love u cr7..im your no 1 fan from malaysia..hope that you will stay and dont leave mu..