Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Ronaldo Case

I want to write more about Matt Simpson, and I might be able to do that a bit later, or maybe tomorrow morning, not in this post. I was preparing to explore the significance of the late elections, the operatic (opera buffo) manoeuvres of Gordon Brown with full closeted chorus of red-nosed Hebrew Slaves, and the election of the (now with extra egg ingredient) BNP here, as indeed, more worryingly, of Jobbik in Hungary, when the news of Ronaldo's £80 million transfer breaks. That means he costs £24 million more than Kaka, and that the combined outlay on the two is £136 million. Which is £36 million more than the whole of Newcastle United.

I am curious about the effects of the global financial crisis on football - including all the major English teams, since Liverpool seem to be feeling the effects. (There's Milan too now, of course.) And I think back to the fall of Leeds United that started when the team finished 5th in the Premier League, just out of the top four who were all going to receive serious income from playing in the Champions League. Leeds spent a vast amount of money, much more than they could afford, in the gamble to become a major European power. Now they can't get out of League Two (the humble old Third Division).

I suspect there is much that is precarious in football generally, but that Real have some sort of state support, a kind of insurance. Or so I read once, a few years ago, when their finances were in a terrible mess. I can't remember where I read that so I may be misremembering. The idea was that Real cannot be allowed to fail because Real is the face of Spain (Barcelona being a Catalan team cannot, and would not want to be, the face of Spain). So Real can pump up the balloon for ever without it exploding. It makes life very tough for the smaller teams in Spain of course, not to say a little boring for the fans at large. You might say that of England too but at least there are four teams, and possibly more, who might win major prizes. As for Scotland - I have always had a fond space in my heart for Raith Rovers, simply because I like the name (as does my father), but I hold out no great hopes for them.

Regarding Ronaldo himself, who knows? He had an extraordinary year last year and a very good one this, though as all the fans say, he has been difficult to love. I think he is a marvellous footballer but has limitations in that he is a player of minutes rather than matches. He has of course played superb matches too, but that is not characteristic of him. He is, as everyone agrees, peevish and vain and - quite often - lazy, but there is no denying his value to the team on the field, that is to say in that brilliant, time-dense moment that expands into a whole match in the memory, a moment that could happen any time and is therefore always a cause for hope .

As a person, he may mature into a more likeable human being but only if he gets laid off with some injury or other. I expect him to start brilliantly at Real then to get a little drunk on himself and alienate some of the others. Real have bought only attackers. Their defence needs support and it won't get it from CR7.

So maybe it was time for him to go. I suspect United have had his best years and that the team, with him, was on the turn in any case. I doubt whether CR7's graph, and with him the team's too, would have risen next year and still less the year after. Buying him for £12 million or so was a wonderfully successful gamble. Most gambles are not successful. We'll see what Real think in a year or so.

What I did love about his presence and attitude was his sheer nerve in doing things English players are generally dissuaded from doing for fear of being called Flash Harry or One-trick Pony. There is a long line of foiled genius in English football with its eternal cry of "Get stuck in!" It is as if people feared there might be something a touch effeminate in that flowing grace.

Well, there is. There always has to be. There is no genius without it. Courage: fine. Industriousness: fine. Heart: fine. Nous: fine. But grace and feint and delicacy combined with power and enthusiasm? Careful now! Damn Careful now! I think. But then I am a Hungarian by birth not a True Born Englishman.

Ronaldo could be absolutely exhilarating and I will miss that, miss it deeply. But others will come along and the team may - who knows? - actually improve.


Billy. C. said...

I find him a tedious individual. Ronaldo that is as well as Brown. Yes he is extremely talented but the baggage that comes with his talents disqualifies him from ever appearing in any 'top-ten' I might choose. I shall be glad to see the back of him from the English scene. Although he's feted throughout the world, I always weigh these so-called 'greats' up by comparing them with Maradonna. If anyone wonders what a truly GREAT player is, I suggest they scour Youtube for some clips of him. Ronaldo isn't fit to be mentioned in the same sentence. Which begs the question, just how much would the Argentinian be worth if he was at his mercurial best and playing today? Real would would have to use 10% of the Spanish GDP if they were to buy him.

I recently went to see Man U play Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. There was only one player who I really wanted to see: Ryan Giggs. Now there's a player who would fill my outside left position in a world team of my choice. A true professional with the grace of a cheetah in full flight. Ronaldo was played out of the game by a novice fullback who wouldn't give him the room to do his little ditties. Maradonna would have brushed that novice fullback aside so easily that he would have been disheartened after just five minutes.

Just my opinion, George. ;)

The Plump said...

I will always pine for Eric. I saw the great Law, Best, Charlton teams, but Eric showed his personality as well as his skills as a footballer. Absolutely bonkers of course,but he played with a sense of melodrama rather than one of grievance. I am not sad today.

George S said...

Well, yes, Giggs. Giggs is something else altogether - a great player over sixteen years and more. I remember some idiot, about seven years ago, writing (possibly in The Independent) how Giggs would never be a great player now, 'now' being perhaps one of the lesser performances.

Giggs is more of an all time great than Ronaldo. Brilliance is not all. And I share my birthday with him.

Cantona. Another great player. That's lovely about a sense of melodrama rather than one of grievance, Plump. The former is definitely preferable over the latter. Enter Cantona, twirling moustache. Exit Ronaldo (and possibly Tevez) nursing grievance.

James Hamilton said...

Before too many people read your comments about expecting little from Raith, do have a look at the end of season Scottish League Two table. You'll like what you see.

And talking of others coming along, don't United have Rooney's younger brother on the books? There were rumours at one point that Rooney Jr was, Phil Neville-like, the better player of the two.

George S said...

"League Two is good, very good, very excellent good; and yet it is not; it is but League Two; it is but so so..." Isn't that Shakespeare?

Shrek Junior! I hadn't realised. All the talk there is of Tosic and Ljalic and Ribery... or Welbeck and Macheda... who may all be excellent, very excellent, and yet but so so.

Dafydd John said...

I've only had the experience of watching Giggs live when he turned out for Wales at the Millennium Stadium. It was extraordinary how the whole crowd would stand up like a flock of starlings as he started on one of those lazy, searing runs down the left.

mikepovswinton and bolton said...

My feelings for MUFC are not to be published in public, and relate largely to my class mates and teachers at junior school and the relentless pushing of the reds down our throats.
All I'll say about Ronaldo is this; unforgivable for the way he went over after Jloyd Samuel's superb tackle at Old Trafford for a penalty. (Question- which team only got one penalty all year in the Prem? Part of the answer; Kevin Nolan missed it at St James', which might have given them some warning.) But also - a couple of years back when we were in serious relegation trouble and the teams were announced at the Reebok the buzz that went around the ground when we realized Ronaldo wasn't playing was palpable - and belief surged into us. We won 1-0 that day.

For the rest - keep your Reds players. How about a post on the great Kevin Davies. An honest footballer who'll run all afternoon for his club, doesn't moan and should have been in the England squad this year.

dubois said...

Well G, it looks like you're on your own. Maybe you were always so busy and thus only receiving results via someone on the telephone that you missed seeing just what a cheat he was recently.

George S said...

Well G, it looks like you're on your own.

Would you like to give me a list of the cheats in Premiership matches this year, dubois? You have three hours starting now. Please use both sides of the paper.

Kevin Davies is a good honest player. Credit to him for that but I doubt it will make him World Player of the Year.

dubois said...

He spent so much time writhing around on the ground I'm surprised he had any time to score goals. He probably suffered more from grass burns than tackles.

George S said...

I think you'll find his writhing time compares quite well with others, not excessive. Time on ground, yes, no doubt extended, but not necessarily spent in writhing. Distinctly less writhing than one would think. Not a proper leather-bound, gold-embossed, rubricated, author-signed writher. Just a paperback writher.

mikeovswinton & the reebok said...

George, of course you are right. But next year Kevin will be captaining Bolton, Ronaldo will be in Madrid, and that fear he inspired in other teams fans and perhaps (almost certainly) players and coaches will have gone. I'm not sure that United have done the right thing in selling him, but these things aren't always decided by the clubs in this day and age.