Cristiano Ronaldo has had the kind of season that even he could only ever have dreamed of having. Everyone knows the statistics. Forty-one goals in forty-five starts. A quite remarkable season that has seen him play an instrumental part in Manchester United retaining the Premiership and on Wednesday evening, trying to add the Champions League trophy to the collection.
Ronaldo has won just about every player of the season award possible in English football this season and we tend to forget that he did the same last season as well. He isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœone season wonderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ although, of course, this season has been special.
There are many claims made about Ronaldo. People ask if he is the best player in the world. He might be, but it is so difficult to judge. People ask if he is the best player of all time. Well, he probably isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t to be honest. He might be in due course, but he definitely isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t yet. Is he a damn good footballer who would improve any team he played for? Absolutely. He is joy to watch. OK, maybe not the propensity to fall over, and definitely not the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœhard done byÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ facial expressions, but the skill, pace, goal scoring and sheer brilliance is a joy.
It would seem after his rather injudicious interviews last week that Ronaldo is approaching a big decision. After Wednesday nightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game with Chelsea he has to decide whether to stay at Old Trafford or follow in the footsteps of David Beckham and head over to the Bernabau to play for Real Madrid. Some people think this is a genuine decision and others have suggested it is simply a ploy to try to get an improved deal at United. Either way, Real Madrid have made their interest in the player very clear.
Should Ronaldo show some loyalty to United? After all, they have made him into the world superstar he is today. When Sir Alex Ferguson took him to Old Trafford he had played just twenty-five league games for Sporting and scored three goals. Whilst he had obvious talent and potential, he was a gamble and he owes much to Manchester United.
On the other hand, Ronaldo has played a huge part in winning Manchester United two successive Premiership titles and may help to add the Champions League on Wednesday. Some would say that he has already repaid them what he owes.
One thing that Sir Alex Ferguson has made quite clear over the years is that with the possible exception of himself, no one person is bigger than the club. David Beckham, Jaap Stam and Ruud Van Nistleroy have all discovered that Fergie can be ruthless. Before them, Paul Ince and others had also discovered the way it works. If Fergie thinks that a playerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heart isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t in it or that they could become disruptive he will not hesitate to show them the door.
It is a real shame that Cristiano Ronaldo was asked about his future in the build up to the biggest game of the season. He probably could and should have declined to answer the questions but that would have only added to the speculation. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think of too many players who wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think long and hard about the prospect of playing for Real Madrid. Although they havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t set the European scene alight for a few years they are still one of the top clubs in the world.
It will be a very difficult decision for the Portuguese winger to make. It is a nice decision, but a difficult one.
Wherever Cristiano Ronaldo ends up he will be loved and adored by his own fans and generally despised by everyone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just the way it is. Other teams hate his arrogance, his play acting and constant moaning and complaining. Most of all though, they all hate the fact that he is playing for someone else and not for them. Much of the hatred is as a direct result of jealousy.
Ronaldo hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been in the sparkling form that he has shown earlier this season for a few weeks. For him, he has had a quiet period over the last few games. Some people have suggested that he canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t produce the goods in big games. I have to say that man of the match performances in Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006 tend to contradict that argument, but after average performances in the semi-final against Barcelona he will feel that he has a point to prove. A Cristiano Ronaldo who feels that he has a point to prove? A Cristiano Ronaldo who will either be playing his last game for Manchester United or reaffirming his commitment to them? That sounds like a Cristiano Ronaldo who may just turn in a virtuoso performance that will leave us all gasping. Chelsea had better watch out!
Finally I was going to ask a simple question. What does Madrid have that Manchester doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t? Then I realised that would be a particularly stupid question. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been to Manchester and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been to Madrid. Anyone who has visited both will know the answer to the question. Manchester is a fine city, butÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
I believe that Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Manchester United for one more season but if he chooses to head to Spain then I think he should go with the good wishes of the United fans. He has repaid the club for their faith in him and he should now do what he thinks is right for him.
One thing I am confident about is that he will be determined on Wednesday night to show the world just how good he is. I think it could well be worth watching.
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