Confidence is piercing: It attacks the disposition in those it encounters with a domineering force.
Arrogance is masochistic: It challenges those dispositions to return force in kind plus more. It demands unequal retribution. It bolsters the defending.
Ronaldo has none of the confidence he deserves and too much of the hubris that weighs him down.
Someone needs to reboot him.
His head is nowhere near the pitch. His attacking is indirect. His tantrums are ubiquitous. His emotions run completely unchecked.
Where he once out-smarted most defenders, most now out-muscle him, sending the winger whirling downward again into the whining spirals which mar his ever-declining reputation.
His free-kicks sail well off course. His runs to the byline are rare. The extempore cuts and shifts are gone, the sleight and trickery with them, replaced with forecast, boastful, and inconsequential step-overs before usually passing square or backwards.
John O’ Shea is in the side—presumably—to pass sideways. Ronaldo is not!
The club he led to glory last year needs at least half of his ability and at most half of the immaturity. Its fans, ever scrambling to doggedly defend the reprobate, deserve respite and reassurance. They deserve to see their hero on song, not his villainous alter-ego, always scowling and recalcitrant.
In the last several seasons, he played like a man who knew he’d be great. Then the world agreed and made him great, exalting him PFA Player of the Year, European Player of the Year, and World Player of the Year. But despite capturing all of world football’s individual awards to confirm his self-belief, he now seems somehow not to believe in himself anymore.
The weight of each opposing crowd booing and teasing him might be taking its toll. Maybe Messi or Ribery’s form of late is what causes Ronaldo so much anxiety. Maybe he can’t deal with the pressure of becoming the most recognizable player on the planet. Maybe he just wants people to like him more—who could blame him?
But after six months of his emotional treacle, can no one within the walls of Old Trafford encourage change in the 24-year-old? Can’t Alex Ferguson himself demand it? The Scot never shied from ego-management: Ince, Cantona, Hughes, Beckham—how is Ronaldo less deserving? Why is he immune?
A flying boot would affect him just the same. Ronaldo must’ve seized sizable leverage with his bi-yearly feigns at foraying into Spanish football, because Ferguson is hesitant to ever discipline the boy in his side who needs it the most.
Let Ronaldo watch a game from the stands like he used to when he actually played with some naivete and creativity. Give Tosic a run-out. Hell, give Nani a run-out. Make Ronaldo remember what it’s like to just be a player again.
Perhaps Carlos Quieroz, former United number two and current Portugal manager, can speak with urgency in a language the winger will hear, understand, and adhere to.
Change for the winger Ronaldo is long overdue and must be swift before he completely undermines his stature in the world game that surely could not have peaked already?