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27th June '08, 07:45 PM
United Better Off Without Ronaldo?

Matthew Wheater runs through the key factors surrounding Manchester United ace Cristiano Ronaldo's proposed move to Real Madrid...


Are United better off with out Ronaldo?

A summer of drama in the Cristiano Ronaldo affair may have left many football fans in trembling transfer limbo. The ‘will he won’t he’ scenarios will have been especially agonising for those in Manchester who wanted to see their favourite star stay at Old Trafford. £70 million for Ronaldo seems to be enough for United and as the two European heavyweights slug out the small details for the Portuguese prize fighter we take a look at what Madrid should expect and whether Ronaldo will be missed by those at United.

Do Madrid know what they are buying?

Bernd Shuster said recently that the acquisition of Ronaldo would help his side push for a Champions League trophy next season. He obviously didn’t watch either of the two semi final games against Barcelona. Ronaldo was a non factor, with his only memorable moment being a missed penalty in Camp Nou. Ronaldo is not a big game player in the way Lionel Messi is and, apart from his towering header in a good first half performance against Chelsea in the Champions League final, he has been posted in missing in the other important match ups. If Schuster was serious about tapping Manchester United for their magic of last season European triumph surely Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic or even Rio Ferdinand would be on the top of his list. But Europe might not be the only problem for Ronaldo.

King Henry’s curse

United were in danger of becoming a one man team. Not in the sense that Ronaldo was the one man that could win the game, United have far too much talent for that. It was in their style of play. United’s key is their balance but at the end of the season Ronaldo was being passed too more often than necessary and therefore unsettled the rhythm of those around him. In the same way Thierry Henry stunted the play of Arsenal in his last few years in London the United side were at risk of becoming predictable in their over use of fleet footed winger. Next season United may actually benefit from Ronaldo’s sale as his presence was beginning to plug the flow of football throughout the side.

Moving to Spain

Again like Henry it seems Ronaldo has not considered his transition to the Spanish League. Possibly dazzled by the bright lights and the big names in Madrid he may have not have realized the impact that the pace of the English league has had on his success. He is after all moving to a league that is practiced in the art of defending speedy wingers. If Henry’s example at Barcelona is anything to go by Ronaldo might struggle in a division where defenders back off and an emphasis is placed more on the tempo of his passing game and his ability to think off the ball. Still, he is sure to be given a license to roam at Madrid and any responsibility of defensive duties will be waived by German coach Schuster allowing the winger to focus on the attacking game he excels in. With out a doubt Ronaldo will have to alter his game the only question is, will he be so good once he does adapt?

Not a Real leader

Ronaldo, for all his wizardry and goals, often under performs when his team is backed up against a wall. If things aren’t going his way it shows immediately as he either spreads his arms in disbelief or shakes his head in disgust. Ronaldo has never been a player that can take the game by the scruff of the neck and haul his side back into contention. Traditionally, United players have been ‘geniuses soaked in sweat’. Undoubtedly the genius is there in abundance but the sweat is missing as he sulkily walks back to position every time he loses possession - a point that could start to rub team mates the wrong way. In this regard, he is not a traditional United player and it seems, in many respects, that Ferguson has made a rare exception for Ronaldo’s super talent. Furthermore, for both United and Portugal he has been handed the captain’s armband but the question arises , how can he worry about the rest of the team as the captain when he is so worried about himself? Still, in his defence, based on goals, Ronaldo was leading everyone in the league by example all last season.

Finding 42 goals in one summer

Statisticians everywhere will be pointing to the fact that United would have struggled last season were in not for a total of 42 goals in all competitions for Ronaldo. However, you would expect that some of the £70 million generated from the sale would be put towards buying big name stars to bring goals to Old Trafford. Still, let’s not forget that United have always scored goals and with Ronaldo gone the stage could be set for the promising partnership of Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney to fully blossom. Undoubtedly, no single player will replace Ronaldo’s goals by themselves, but as a collective unit, finding the back of the net has never been a problem for Ferguson’s men. In terms of play Nani will be expected to weigh in with goals and assists and it could be the youngster that will ultimately fill Ronaldo’s boots at the club.

The perfect replacement

It seems that Ferguson was preparing his contingency plan for Ronaldo’s departure already a year ago. He wouldn’t have expected to lose his main star so soon, but Ferguson is never caught off guard. Although Nani came in as an understudy to his countryman, he did enough last season to show that he is capable of emulating the feats of Ronaldo at Old Trafford. Indeed, Nani in many ways is more of a complete player than Ronaldo in that his goal-to-assist ratio is far more balanced than his Madrid-bound friend. Nani may not have the swagger of Ronaldo, but his certainly has the ability and this new season could be a coming out party for the former Sporting Lisbon star.

Will Ronaldo be missed?

Fans will definitely miss the chest pouting free kicks, scintillating shots and Ronaldo’s Tour de France peddle feet in the exact same way that the United accounts will miss the sales figures in Ronaldo’s merchandise column. Goals will come and new players will entertain at United. After the dust has settled, Ronaldo will be remembered fondly at Old Trafford, despite the lack of courtesy surrounding his exit. For both fans and many team mates Ronaldo’s departure will leave a gap in their lives, but his absence will not make the slightest bit of difference to Ferguson’s United side’s performances as they grind slowly onwards into another title defending season.

Matthew Wheatleyhmm...

RIP Jakey
27th June '08, 07:52 PM
I don't think they'll be better off tbh

27th June '08, 08:02 PM
Ronaldo is in his prime and still had loads of potential where henry didnt have

Xtra P
27th June '08, 08:04 PM
Ronaldo is in his prime and still had loads of potential where henry didnt have

True stories, he can improve on all the things he lacks, Madrid are the real winners if he goes!

27th June '08, 08:40 PM
if they get say 70m for him they could buy another striker. I think keeping him could result in him becoming a gerrard or henry figure where the players look to him for something special to the extent they cant play without him. They will be better off without him in my opinion.

Nine Bar
27th June '08, 10:46 PM
the premier league is the best in the world....the champs of that league 2 me is the best club and team in the world, they also won the champ league so why on earth would you want to move?

Money seems to have taken over, tbh i wouldnt no what to do with £200,000 a week £120,000 is more than enough, i swear he aint going no more though?

If he did hes an idiot imo

Eric Cantona
28th June '08, 12:23 AM
Cortz thought you were dead, welcome back ar' kid