Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “He [Ronaldo] wanted to leave, it’s as simple as that. He was going to go some time. We’ve done well to keep him for so long.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.
Runner-up: “I love it when people jeer me. I love to see the hate in their eyes, to hear the insults. It doesn’t bother me. It’s true lots of people hate me but there are even more who love me and who support me. I feel bad only when I play badly. Fortunately, that happens rarely.” – Cristiano Ronaldo.
Today’s overview: The latest twist in the Ronaldo-Real Madrid saga is the suggestion that C-Ron was forced to move on in order to realise his commercial potential.
According to Jamie Jackson, “Ronaldo’s frustration with Sir Alex Ferguson’s reluctance to encourage Manchester United players to exploit their commercial potential was a major factor in the 24-year-old’s desire to leave Old Trafford.” Picking up the story from the other side, Mark Ogden adds “Real Madrid say they will capitalise on the Â£80m capture of Cristiano Ronaldo by selling a million replica shirts bearing the Portuguese forward’s name in his first six months at the Bernabeu.” Pete Jensen completes the discussion by claiming “Real Madrid will turnover half a billion euros a year thanks to the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Playing down Ronaldo’s own commercial benefits from the deal, Ian Bell talks up Manchester United’s ability to wheel-n’-deal. “United did not hesitate, haggle, or hang back. Once his hernia problem clears up, Ronaldo might wish to contemplate that truth. For better or worse, Ferguson dealt with David Beckham in a like manner. Madrid gained all those luscious ‘image rights’ while Barca became pre-eminent. Manchester United didn’t do too badly either.”
Appearing to take the transfer rather personally, Andy Dunn throws out the bathwater in lambasting C-Ron for his Madrid move. “For every example of his artistry, there was an example of his con-artistry. And the diving, the feigning, the petulance, the rampant egoism are not his worst crimes. He misled the fans and, it seems, misled the greatest club manager of all time. In these pages, on Sky Sports, on radio, he professed his commitment to United and talked of the fatherly influence of Ferguson. It turned out to be poppycock.” By contrast, almost happy to pack Ronaldo’s bags Rod Liddle wishes bon voyage to CR7. “For all Ronaldoâ€™s sublime skill, he was disliked for his un-Britishness, his lack of dignity, his pout and his cheating.”
While on his new employer, Florentino Perez, Piers Morgan finds himself tooting the owner’s trumpet. “For sheer breathtaking audacity of hope, this chubby, balding, bespectacled political tycoon is right up there with Barack Obama in the ‘Yes, we can’ visionary stakes. Perez’s campaign for the Real Madrid presidency was based around the slogan ‘The dream is back.'”
Keeping on the consequences of the Ronaldo move to Madrid, Paul Hayward is convinced that La Liga has pulled away as the dominant league in world football. “Spain are European champions and house the best club side in the world. Their two great footballing metropolises are home to the world’s three best players: Ronaldo, Kaka and Messi, as well as one of the best central midfield pairings the game has seen, in Xavi and Iniesta… Power has shifted dramatically and irresistibly to Iberia.” Playing on the same theme, John Carlin explains “the reason the football worldâ€™s eyes will turn to Spain now is that this is where the action will be, where the fun will be had, irrespective of who wins the Champions League.” While Rob Draper also draws the same conclusion penning “in a matter of days, the virile English Premier League has started to look emasculated. The best five players on the planet at present are Ronaldo, Leo Messi, Kaka, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and all five will be playing next season in Spain.”
Stuart James interviews the forever colourful Eric Cantona. “I think managers are like actors… They do what the players need. They launch out because the players need to feel that. And [Ferguson] was a wonderful actor.”
Poor Pompey. Can there really be all this smoke without fire?
Once again their proposed takeover bid is dragged through the mud as it has now emerged, as reported by Jamie Jackson, that “Hydra ÂProperties is part of a wider business group chaired by the full brother of ÂManchester City’s new owner… It is against Premier League Âregulations for two clubs to be owned by the same controlling interest.” In a separate article Rory Smith notes how the South Coasters “have strenuously denied that Thaksin Shinawatra, the controversial former Thai prime minister and erstwhile Manchester City owner, is involved in an impending takeover of the club.”
More controversy is stirred up by Daniel King in his analysis of the Pompey takeover, writing “the Mail on Sunday can reveal that when two parties were approached about becoming part of a Portsmouth takeover and asked who was the ultimate source of the money, they were told that it came from [Thaksin] Shinawatra.”
Pompey are not alone in looking disorganised, with Duncan White highlighting the latest shenanigans at St. James Park. “The extent of Newcastle United’s disastrous management in recent seasons can be exposed by The Sunday Telegraph with the revelation that the club is still paying their notorious midfielder, Joey Barton, Â£675,000 per year for his image rights.” Keeping with the Magpies, Rob Shepherd muddies the water by claiming “Alan Curbishley is being lined up to become Newcastle boss… Ashley believes he can get a better deal if Newcastle have a manager in place for the massive rebuilding job needed to help the club secure immediate promotion.”
One person unlikely to be on Tyneside come the start of the season is on-the-shelf Michael Owen, the Observer flagging up Little Mickey’s attempts at finding a new employer by revealing “Owen’s management company has been shopping their client to various clubs with the help of a 34-page brochure that talks up the Newcastle striker.” Rob Beasley also picks up on the story adding “it is believed to be the first time in Premier League history that a player has produced his own prospectus to prompt a transfer.”
David James writes an excellent article revealing how physiotherapy is still not taken seriously in top flight football. “What I can’t understand is why clubs who pay out millions in wages don’t invest in the best physiotherapy available. Why risk bringing a player back too quickly, only for the problems to return? If you pay Â£80m for Cristiano Ronaldo, wouldn’t you invest Â£15k in his physiotherapy? The sums don’t add up.”
With the Confederations Cup starting today in South Africa, Amy Lawrence fears that the “participants will suffer some form of pay-back next June… You can’t help but wonder what Kaka thinks of the photographs of Cristiano Ronaldo partying in Los Angeles as he slogs through another training session with his compatriots, preparing to take on Egypt in Bloemfontein on Monday.” Elsewhere, Ian Hawkey pokes holes in Italy’s national team ahead of the Confederations Cup observing “many of Lippiâ€™s regime are the wrong side of 30, a reflection of the Serie A in which they play.”
Jonathon Wilson takes a step backwards ahead of the Confederations Cup, pointing out “what is important is less who wins than the hints about next summer’s World Cup. Will South Africa be the worst-ever hosts? Are Dunga’s Brazil too pragmatic? Are Egypt ready to translate continental form into World Cup form? And have Spain really put their years of flakiness behind them?”
Moving onto the second major tournament of the summer – the U21 European Championships – Steve Tongue assesses England’s chances. “The first XI should be strong, especially going forward, with Fraizer Campbell as back-up to Walcott and Agbonlahor. The midfield will be workmanlike, though, without an outstanding playmaker… Overall then, about the same as most England sides at most tournaments: they will be competitive but may lack the little bit of class to go all the way.”
Lies. More Lies. And even more lies. The Sundays are bursting with transfer rumours.
Starting in the Sunday Times, Jonathan Northcroft links Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a staggering Â£80m move from Inter to Real Madrid in which “Perez could try to tempt the Italians with a player-plus-cash deal involving the Argentinian Gonzalo Higuain.” In a separate article Northcroft continues to peddle the rumours claiming “Jermaine Jenas, Tom Huddlestone, Heurelho Gomes, Adel Taarabt and Darren Bent â€” bound for Sunderland â€” are set to leave Spurs, who are chasing Ashley Young.”
The Tottenham gossip continues thick and fast, Aidan McGee bleating that “Martin O’Neill wants Jermaine Jenas to replace Gareth Barry,” while the NOTW also claim that “David Bentley is poised to end his horror spell at White Hart Lane by signing for Aston Villa on July 1.” On potential recruits, Dave Kidd invents the story that “Harry Redknapp is ready to bid for Italian target man Luca Toni – if he cannot seal a deal for Ruud van Nistelrooy.”
Chelsea and Manchester City find themselves sharing similar stories this Sunday.
On the flipside Manchester United are set to spend, Derick Allsop reporting that “United have added Spain’s David Silva to their list of targets.” The story is also covered by Steve Bates in The People, who adds “David Gill [is] to tie up a Â£24million deal having tracked the 23-year-old Spain winger all season.”
Lastly, Chris Bascombe delivers worrying news to Liverpool fans. “Javier Mascherano’s family anguish is behind his shock threat to quit Liverpool… With Xabi Alonso also determined to force through a move to La Liga, the spine of the Liverpool team could be ripped apart before the start of next season.”