A lot of people were saying that Man U were throwing good money after bad by buying another has-been, but Ronaldo is pure class and he is proving the doubters wrong. Sure, the legs are not as quick but the mind and striker's instinct are functioning well.
Back in the day I was firmly on the Messi side of the "Ronaldo or Messi" debate. Ronaldo was a Man U player while I am a City supporter, then when I moved to Madrid and started going to watch Atletico. Ronaldo arrived in the city to play for the enemy. During his time at Real he tortured Atletico, yet the Madridistas did not take to Ronaldo well. They called him a "chulo" or wide-boy/corner boy. The best player in Real's history, scoring 311 goals in 292 appearances, was not liked by the famously fickle Real faithful. At that time Pep's Barça were feared all over the world and Messi was the tip of the spear. Every team in La Liga, except Atletico, would park the bus when Barça came to town. Even Mourinho's Real would park it, much to the chagrin of the Real fans. So, I was lucky to see some classic games at Atleti's Calderon stadium and Messi always delivered. It was a pleasure to watch the wee magician in the flesh.
Ronaldo was all about pace and athleticism, while Messi was about innate talent producing sublime dribbles and breath-taking goals. Given a choice, it would be Messi every time. I was hoping he would come to the EPL to see how he would get on, instead it was Ronaldo who rocked up again at Old Trafford. It is an Old Trafford without his old mate Rooney.
I remember when CR7 was at Man U the first time, a picture emerged in The Sun of Rooney in Mallorca with his mates, smoking, drinking and eating burgers. When asked about the pictures Ronaldo said that Rooney would pay for this behaviour in the future. Rooney is now fat, bald and retired while Ronaldo is still earning over £24 million per year. He was always meticulous with his nutrition, physique and recovery protocols, and he is reaping the benefits.
I have to say that my opinion of Ronaldo has mellowed over the years. Shortly after moving back home, I was at Windsor to see Portugal in a Euro qualifier. Northern Ireland were winning 2-1 and Ronaldo was getting some stick from the GAWA, with chants of "Messi, Messi, Messi" every few minutes and every touch he took was jeered. He got his revenge though with a late hattrick and when he was subbed late in the game the GAWA gave him a standing ovation. Despite the jeers and stick throughout the match, he took the time to stand and return the ovation.
Sure, I didn't like him for most of his career and I don't want him or Man U winning anything this year, but it is good to see him still plying his trade at the highest level.
He was, and still is, pure class.
|Peter Anderson is a Unionist with a keen interest in sports.|