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Ronaldo Departure A Huge Blow To Manchester United

Since Real Madrid’s £80m swoop on Cristiano Ronaldo, I’ve read plenty of responses by United supporters insisting this was a positive move for the team. Man U is not one player. We’ve got 80m to spend.  We’re fine. No, really.

While the Ronaldo move was inevitable and £80m is a handsome bundle of cash to take in, I cannot accept the idea that United are better off without him. Don’t get me wrong: he was going to leave no matter what and with the chance to secure such a huge amount of money for his release, nobody can fault Sir Alex or United for the move.

But while United is not just one player (an obvious notion in a team sport), we can all agree, this particular player was a pivotal cog in the trophy-winning machine.

Look at it this way: Giggs is fading. Scholes is fading. Ronaldo is gone.

Three players who have shaped Manchester United’s form and directly fed their winning fires will no longer be able to exert their influence to the full extent the Red Devils have enjoyed for so long.

Manchester are still bursting with top talent, but none of their players, save perhaps Rooney, can change a match the way Ronaldo, Giggs and Scholes have done so consistently for United.

Replacing Ronaldo (or Giggs, or Scholes) is a Himalayan task no matter how many millions of pounds one has in the kitty. How often did his dead ball kicks seem a foregone conclusion? How often did he create that critical spark in motion to carve out a chance from the deepest of dead ends? From his ability to twist a ball around the wall from daunting distances and angles, sending that heat-seeking missile to its preordained home to his ability to dance through defenses and set up the perfect service or goal in nearly any circumstance makes him one of an elite few.

The act of finding someone that good who is established and prying him away from their club exists in a sliver of likelihood. And finding an unknown who happens to blossom into the next C. Ronaldo will be an expensive spin of the roulette wheel. Fergie could feasibly strike oil again as he did with Ronaldo, unproven when he joined United, but even if he is so fortunate, any new promising signing will take time to blossom into greatness, if at all.

Right now the £80m is merely potential energy. Ronaldo was proven beyond all doubt.

Fergie will spend the fresh cash. And he’ll get quality for it. But I doubt he’ll find anything on the level of Ronaldo.  If he is so fortunate, though, we cannot say Manchester United are better off until the deal is actually made. For now: they are not.

Yes, Ronaldo was just one part of the team. But just as Liverpool don’t want to play without Torres or Gerrard, Chelsea don’t want to play without Lampard, and Arsenal have not looked as imposing since Henry’s departure, sometimes that one part of the team is the consummate talisman, a lighting rod who channels an essential spark for those around him.

United need lighting to strike again. Until then they are worse off from this unavoidable transfer than they’d like us to believe.

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  1. kabeer

    June 17, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Yeah. Absolutely right.
    I dont think any player [other than Torress] could replace him at old trafford.
    by ball means, the game is on as we [liverpool] bring the 19th one this season.

  2. Martin

    June 17, 2009 at 9:00 am

    All the geniuses who attacked Ethan’s comments should ask themselves this question: Why is it that no one, simply no one, was really able to be a consistent striker for Manchester United (in full, not Man U) during this past season? How many times did United come away with the points from a last gasp goal, luck and circumstance? Ronaldo, having a poor season by his standards, still outshone Rooney who, no matter his pathetic misses on goal, is acclaimed by English fans as the greatest ever. I would say Rooney can be brilliant but that has not been the case recently. And with a defence that started to leak goals, a midfield that was inconsistent and seemingly will never have Hargreaves back, this is a crisis for United. Football (not soccer) is the poorer for Ronaldo’s move, and there is no one, certainly not Nani or Anderson or Fletcher or whoever you want to name, who can be the game changer. The glitter is coming off the Manchester United brand, and that’s a shame, because I have watched every match this season from New York (yes, it’s not the same as being at OT), and the so-called champions of the world seldom looked consistently anything like their league title and other wins would suggest.

  3. greg

    June 17, 2009 at 6:37 am

    hi hat the em

  4. coachie ballgames

    June 16, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    I agree with this article. Man United have plenty of youth, and Rooney might benefit from having more attacking chances, but it’s only a theory. Man United will have an excellent defence, a very decent midfield, but will find goals hard to come by next year.
    Chelski and Liverpool are salivating at their golden chance to wrest Premiership dominance.
    I’d rather Man United go through a lean year or two (which means 3rd or 4th place) and develop their youth, Welbeck, Machuda, etc. rather than go for the big splash.

  5. Joe

    June 16, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    At first I thought United was the only club for C. Ronaldo , but during last years Champions league final , I heard him getting a lot of grief from United supporters. The Barca fan who I was with could only comment that “man he got you to OT and they are still complaining”. Now after hearing what 50-65% of fans think of him, all I can say is good luck United as you will reap what you fans sow….ZERO cups these past three years without him!!!! Now Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool fans can’t wait for the season to start. Imagine finishing in 3rd or 4th!!!! In the end the EPL will be a less desireable league and if United don’t win silverware the debt payments get very expensive. By December, you will all bite your tongues

  6. Omar

    June 16, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Ronaldo’s selfishness is what saved United’s behind in many cases. How about his solo goal against Fulham away in 06/07? United would’ve prolly
    NOT won the league without that show of selfishness. Or his long range effort against Porto? Funny how people forget! United fans have been spoilt over the last six years and have started to take magic on the field courtesy of Ronaldo for granted. The ‘selfish’ argument is just one way for United fans to pacify themselves about losing Ronaldo. People keep bringing up his selfishness in the CL final, but my God, that was a lot better to watch than Rooney quaking in his boots everytime a Barca defender got near him, Vidic getting owned by Eto and Carrick misplacing pass after pass. In a way, I’m glad Ronaldo has decided to leave United. They just don’t deserve a talent like him.

  7. jay

    June 16, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    i am a man u fan n i am telling u ronaldo is a sun which is setting , i sympathy with real . without him we won a premiership title this year . if i can decide rooney my best no 7 n give no 10 to tevez . for scholes n giggs my legends they r still here dont worry about them they r still young

  8. JLay

    June 16, 2009 at 11:54 am

    There is no doubt that Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world, and his departure will hurt United’s goal tally in the short term. However, for all his skills, Ronaldo is a selfish, disruptive presence on the field and in the locker room. He doesn’t deserve to wear our shirt anymore. Comparing him to a Gerrard, or an Henry is an insult -they were and are consumate professionals who loved their clubs.

    Ronaldo is a petulant mercenary who thinks he’s too good for English football. United fans feel betrayed – we who supported him after the WC fiasco, made excuses for his diving and crying, and forgave him for his failure to show up in big matches. So we say good riddance and we wish him nothing but the worst in life. We also wish relgation and bankruptcy on Madrid, an organization of thieves, cheats and liars who don’t deserve a place in world soccer.

    Seriously, how many players can you name that scored 67 goals for their club over a two year span and still managed to be hated by at least half of its fans? I can’t think of one. While we may very well mourn the loss of his goal tally, I think that most of us are happy to see the back of him.

    Fergie will replace him, maybe not with one player but likely with two or three.

  9. Ron

    June 16, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I have to agree with Andrew. Yes, there’s no doubt that Ronaldo is a fantastic individual, but football is a team sport. If you look at the team as a whole, I can honestly say they are all selfless, team oriented players. Ronaldo is not and he will force some fantastic players to support roles…like he did for United. I’ve seen countless articles criticizing Rooney for not scoring enough goals, playing out of position, etc. Ronaldo is the reason for it. He’s taking selfish shots, like he did in the Champions League Final. He’s moving into attacking positions from out wide. Rooney covers for him. I think you are going to see a United team that actually improves without Ronaldo’s services…this is even before the 80 millon pounds are spent.

  10. Tyson

    June 16, 2009 at 11:30 am

    An article written by a moron. Seriously there is having an opinion and there is being a moron and this sits squarely in the moron camp. You shouldn’t be writing articles.

    This situation is so familiar over the years it’s just de javu. It’s happened so many times before it’s nearly becoming a novelty.

    Anybody with an ounce of intelligence would know having a big enough war chest to buy a few good players always puts you in a superior position to having just one good player on your team.

    I would have swapped up Ronaldo for two good players the likes of Xavi and Iniesta at the drop of a pin.

  11. theflatbackfour

    June 16, 2009 at 11:28 am

    It will be hard to replace Ronaldo i.e. I am in total agreement with Ethan here. I thought of a possible replacement who has the same direct running and pace as Ronaldo – I came up with the Brazilian winger, Mancini of Inter Milan. Excellent player and could be a great buy potentially as he does not seem to have a place in Mourinho’s team and mind.

  12. Roy

    June 16, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Ronaldo did take all the free kicks and penalties. By the law of averages he did not do very well considering. Give “any top player” 100 chances of scoring and I believe most will do reasonably well. It’s the players that only have one or two shots, or only one or two chances, and score, that are the real geniuses. United have a strong team all round, and with a less selfish player in place of Ronaldo I think we will see the likes of Rooney and Berbatov scoring much more often.

  13. Ryan O Jack

    June 16, 2009 at 11:24 am

    You lost all credibility when you called United, Man U.
    It got worse from there.

  14. Andrew

    June 16, 2009 at 11:01 am

    This article hides all radical journalism and belief. First and foresmost, don’t fool yourself into thinking that Paul Scholes has played any significant impact in United’s season, this season. His impact this season has easily been overshadowed by Carrick, Anderson and Fletcher’s. And when Hargreaves comes back, this will seem even less of a problem. Giggs was never in the starting eleven this season. Other players are better in centre and out wide where Park and Ronaldo outshined him easily. However, to get to the point. This is the same thing that was said when Cantona left, when Ruud and Beckham was sold. Even when Jaap Stam left everyone wondered how United’s defensive could ever be as solid. Yet, United and Ferguson have bounced back everytime. If United bring in Antonio Valencia, I would see it as a possible improvement of the team. If we bring in Ribery, I would see it as a certain improvement. Why? – Because Ronaldo was SO selfish. He had more shots on goal than any other player in the Premiership and the Champions League. If those shots were transferred into unselfish passes to Rooney or Berbatov, this would enhance their game greatly. Especially Rooney will benefit from this as this will help him become more focused on his own game, thus we will see him take centre stage. And I do Believe Rooney is the diamant we need to build around. With an orthodox winger, this will prove decisive.

  15. Matt

    June 16, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Surely it’s soccer in your neck of the woods?

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