Devil’s Advocate is a weekly column where we’ll put aside our own opinions to blindly argue ONE side of a hot topic in football, no matter how silly or how much of a lost cause it may be.
Add to it, slate it, and if you want to send in your own just write to:
This week, we’ll try to make the case for C-Rizzle to hop on the next flight to Spainland.
There’s no question that Cristiano Ronaldo is thinking about abandoning Manchester United for Barcelona or Real Madrid. Why? Because he’s already said it before.
But beyond that, if he wants to be the best player he can be, he needs to play in the best league for the biggest teams. And while the boys at Sky would like you to believe that means Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool – the reality is Barcelona or Real Madrid will be juggernauts with a mystique and respect from the rest of the world that the Premiership clubs will never have. The fact that top players flock to those two clubs no matter what sort of form they’re in or how barren their trophy cabinet is says it all. If any of the Big Four won nothing for 5-6 seasons, would the same happen?
The timing is perfect for Ronaldo, in fact it couldn’t be better. He’s at the peak of his powers (so far) and should win the Premiership this year. Job done, time to move on and achieve something else before Scholes, Giggs and Larsson are replaced with Fletcher, Richardson and O’Shea.
Yes, the Premiership is a little more exciting thanks to some second rate defending and frantic tactics to cater to the short attention spans of the modern viewer, but La Liga is superior, especially when it comes to technical quality and the ability to play football rather than rely on pure athleticism. The last Sunday League match we saw ended 8-6 with end to end stuff, but the football on display was still utter crap.
Look no further than last years Champion’s League Final for proof when Arsenal – easily the most technically gifted team in the Premiership – could only compete with Barcelona by resorting to the sort of creativity-stifling 4-5-1 tactics that Arsene Wenger moans about facing in the Premiership. This is a league where a team is happy and willing to accommodate Ronaldinho, Deco and Messi, a league where Villarreal were prepared to build their team around the singular creative skills of a traditional #10 in Juan Riquelme, instead of packing in as many defensive midfielders as possible. It’s the league where the great entertainers – Zidane, Ronaldinho, Figo – were allowed to play freely rather than get hacked to bits by Robbie Savage simply for being too good.
He’ll get some proper appreciation in Spain. Sure, he’s been raking in the plaudits lately but do you think Ronaldo has forgotten the harsh, knee-jerk, xenophobic scapegoating he received from English press and fans at the start of this season? Of course not. He also doesn’t like being booed and called a diver every time he’s hacked down by some Championship-level defender who’s too slow to catch him, or a nancy butty boy just because he has fancy hair and a nuclear tan despite living in Manchester.
And then there’s his current manager. Sir Alex has put his arm around the youngster so far, but as Beckham, Stam, Keane and every other former Fergie favourite knows, that changes as your profile grows. Ronaldo is approaching world superstar status, and his flamboyant metrosexuality and desire to have all eyes on him has far eclipsed that of Beckham at the same age. Playing for the Scot is like when you’re winning in a casino, do well and you get showered with attention and praise, do TOO well and you’ll wake up in a gutter somewhere with your head up your arse.
Discussing Ronaldo’s future may be getting boring, but it’s going to have a massive impact on Manchester United beyond the pitch. The club, and Sir Alex, has never had to sell a key player before they wanted to and we’re pretty sure the Glazers will be expected to uphold that trend – especially as even a fee of 50 million pounds will only get the club two Owen Hargreaves’.
But Ronaldo’s head has been turned once, and with the entire population of Portugal trying to finish the job it only seems like a matter of time.
Is there an argument to be made here? Or is it a fruitless effort in the face of glaring facts? Let us know in the comments.