Cristiano Ronaldo transfer: Manchester United winger's Real Madrid metamorphosis
11 June 2009 01:36
He seemed intent on kicking out of the game a certain Carles Puyol, the Barcelona captain, the athletic symbol of Catalonia. To whack Puyol once could be considered a mistake, to knock him down twice looked more than carelessness. It seemed almost deliberate. A cynic might claim that Ronaldo was already playing to a Castilian audience.
Some of the United fans encountered outside the Olympic Stadium and on the flight back to England had had enough of Ronaldo. They admired his goals the previous year, his swaggering displays in winning trophy after trophy but this was a No 7 who seemed to be more about himself than about the team. Previous No 7s like George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham were glittering virtuoso talents, particularly Best, but all of them understood the team came first. Even Beckham, accused of being self-regarding at times, was always obsessed with the team ethic.
Ronaldo was never a complete team player which is why he is perfect for the land of the galacticos, Real Madrid. He will be welcomed warmly at the Bernabeu, and not really missed at Old Trafford, particularly as a real team player, Wayne Rooney, may now be able to play through the middle.
Events of the past 24 hours have shown that Sir Alex Ferguson's judgement call on Ronaldo is likely to be proved correct, particularly if he unleashes Rooney in a central position. Rooney excelled for England attacking through the middle against Andorra, operating almost as a fox in the box, scoring twice, having been urged by Fabio Capello to get into the area more.
Rooney cut a forlorn figure out wide in the Champions League while Ronaldo was through the middle. If Ferguson does install Rooney in his most effective position, perhaps introducing another striker like Karim Benzema alongside him, or a creative force like Franck Ribery or Antonio Valencia out wide, Ronaldo's departure will not trigger much mourning. One truism springs to mind: no player is bigger than Manchester United.