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Friday, June 12, 2009

Wenger, Benitez and Ancelotti should be quietly pleased as Ronaldo's exit leaves a massive void

The team at EFT are currently taking a good rest from football analysis as we enter the off-season. However, the pending sale of Ronaldo from Man Utd to Real Madrid in an £80 million deal can't be left unremarked.

For me he has been the major reason for Man Utd's amazing 'double' win of the Premier League and the Champions League in 2007-2008 and their near repeat of this success in 2008-2009. Not only is his goals tally in the last two seasons simply stunning - approx 70 goals - but he also bought a will to win and intensity for attacking success that gave Man Utd a special X-factor crucial to their success over this recent period.

Ronaldo is currently irreplaceable by any single player if the aim is to recruit an individual who brings the same level of playability to the pitch. This makes logical sense as he is officially the number one player in the world. The only two other players who are in his league is Messi and Kaka - and they will not be going to Man Utd anytime soon.

Franck Ribery has been mooted as a possible replacement and he really impressed me in a France World Cup qualifier I saw a couple of months ago. He is a fearless attacking player with the same 'give-all' attitude of a Tevez and a Rooney. Indeed, I would say he is in the same mould of these two players - as he likes to rove with freedom around the pitch and keep a very high tempo and intensity. Yet, he does not possess the same electric pace and all-round ability of Ronaldo, nor would he give Man Utd the same superstar-presence as the Portugese winger.

I think the absence of Ronaldo will have a marked impact on Man Utd. He was worth more than just a single player in an eleven player team. And his ability to remain practically injury free in the last two seasons contributed so much to Man Utd's success. Ferguson was happy to rotate many players this season and last except for two: one of them being Ronaldo (Vidic being the other). As long as Ferguson had Ronaldo on the pitch he knew his team would possess in just one player the superb attacking talent and intense attitude that could win the match.

With Giggs and Scholes showing in the Champs Final that they are at the very end of their fantastic careers and Tevez seemingly also on his way it could well be the case that next season will be one of 'transition' for Man Utd. Man Utd may need some time to find their rhythm next season which can be exploited by their more settled rivals: Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Indeed, the eyes of Benitez, Ancelotti and Wenger should be more firmly set on achieving Premier League title success next season with the departure of the best player from the current champions. In this context, it will now be even more interesting to see what players come in/stay at these clubs as they look to seize upon the increased possibility of breaking the fantastic 'three year in a row' title winning success of Man Utd.

On a final note it must be the case that Premier League supporters congratulate Ronaldo on his play during his time here and to wish him well at Real Madrid. Although he bought an over-dramatisation and penchant for diving that was quite frustrating to watch - it is important to remember that he also bought a great courage to the pitch and an attacking flair and invention that was thrilling to watch. It is also the case that youngsters in this country are imitating Ronaldo in taking a dynamic and very skilful approach to improving their play. In this way his impact may be extremely positive in the years to come - as his commitment to ally amazing skill with courageous attacking intent may hopefully be reflected in the play of the next generation of English footballers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuck him

6/12/2009 6:34 pm

Blogger JamRed said...

you all said the same after Cantona, Beckham, Keane, van Nistelroy and even before that with Ince...
Did United ever recover? No player is big enough to stop the clubs progress.

6/12/2009 6:58 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

once a diver allways a diver and cheat

6/12/2009 6:58 pm

Blogger Carl said...

I don't necessarily feel that a manu with 80-100m warchest will be weakened, but your article is excellent and objective. A far cry from the usual partisan and emotional rubbish in most football clubs blog sites.

I am an arsenal fan, but its true, Ronaldo carried manu's titles in the last 3 seasons single handedly. This guy was a guarrantteed match winner anyday, and was most often able to conjure up a goal at critical times in most matches he played in.

Even with his antics, I liked him for his courage and never-say-die attitude. He keeps working hard and trying till the end of each match.

I do wish him the best of luck, but I hate his destination club so much. So, I wish him no titles while he remains there (LOL).

As for how the title chase shapes up next season, manu have enough quality to still be there, but I dont think they will win after losing this x-factor. To the guy comparing those others to Ronaldo, dont be silly, none of those guys (Cantona was terribly over-rated too) are fit to clean Ronaldo's boots in terms of regular impact on matches. Manu has lost the equivalent of a very good horse-face, over-rated cantona, over-rated keane in this one player.

6/12/2009 7:26 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unnecessary hype about a good player. Agreed he is this and that but never discountenance the team he belonged to. Well only time will tell if his move is truly "historic". he is talented but not all that.

6/12/2009 7:41 pm

Anonymous Barriecuda said...

Well written, Man Utd will still be strong as ever but they really do lose a lot with CR7's absence. It's definitely the year for one of the other "top 4" to challenge for the top.

6/12/2009 7:41 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, seems manu fans r trying to console themselves by playing down the impact Ronaldo has had in their recent titles.

carl is right, the guy signle handledly won those titles for manu, just like drogba did for chelsea's 2 consecutive titles in moaningho era.

Comparing old horse-face, cantona, keane, etc to the mamoth impact of ronaldo is laughable. manu lost like the equivalent of 3/4 of their best players by selling him.

Still the money is plentiful, and if used wisely will minimise the impact of him leaving.

6/12/2009 7:51 pm

Blogger andrew said...

As a Liverpool fan, I'll be pleased to see him go; he's made a good side look a lot better than it was over the past two years.
However, I don't believe Rudolph would let him go if he didn't believe he could cope without him. Rooney should be able to step up and I'm sure that Duchess has his targets that he can now well afford.

6/12/2009 7:54 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey Carl, you are a closet Manc fan, definitely not and Arsenal fan. You should fly to Madrid and meet your prince charming when he arrives, you blouse waring poodle walker!

6/12/2009 8:40 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point that SAF sold becks and horseface and blah blah blah only goes so far. Surely Manure won't fall out of the top four and surely they have enough in their locker to win any of the cup competitions (even if their new signings don't bed in until January 2010). But in the past when they sold they only faced a strong arsenal, who in fact took titles and cups off them. Now they face chelsea and liverpool who are at or near their peak, particularly money bags chelsea, but also Real and ManCity are competing for the superstars that SAF relies on to win 10-12 points per year on intimidation alone. Not a good time to break up a proven dynamic.

That said, SAF always builds a team that is just good enough to win everything and he doesn't need to replace like for like. He loves a bit of a gamble (none of this two big earners for every position fantasy football for him). He will improve all over the pitch methinks - a rightback, for instance, rather than try for another superstar. I think ManU will only drop down to the same level of Arsenal and Liverpool - a lot will depend on one or two top players and injuries.

The league will no doubt be more competitive next season.

6/12/2009 9:54 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Very good article, T.

When you look back on the games Man Utd have had over the past three seasons, Ronaldo has made the difference, and only Ronaldo. Rooney is about the same important level as Ronaldo, someone who can turn a game their way almost every time they play.

It's that zest for the game - they have the natural touch of the ball and make the ball do what they want it to do, more often than most. Watch a player when he receives a pass, a through-ball, a high ball, a slow or fast ball, and watch if he controls it in the way he wants to. You can tell.

I watched particularly Lampard in the FA Cup final - was my MOTM. His passing was exact, he passed to Malouda to cross for Drogba's goal. He touched it back to fool Phil Neville and struck it with his weaker foot and scored the winner. Lampard is almost a player that controls the ball and gets it to do what he wants it to. That type of player is invaluable, particularly when they have that zest every game.

I can name them in the EPL: Rooney, Ronaldo, Gerrard, Torres, Lampard....feel free to add any more. Fabregas is another, hardly losses the ball, lays it off coolly or passes it through accurately. Vieira was another, 6ft plus, when he was on the ball, picking it up from near his own box, goes off with it, hardly losing it, fending players off while he contemplates what he will do with it.

And Zidane...was for me the greatest of them all. Players like these have plans after plans with what they will do with the ball before they even get it. You see them play it first time so often with accuracy, and that is why.

Ronaldo was that player for Man Utd. Any time I see his name on the start-up, I think he will make a difference. he's slim, good height and yet he is nimble and moves with speed before his marker even acknowlegdes it, much less where he is. And I think he will thrive on the cheers from The Bernabeu when he touches the ball. Some have said he will fail because RM will fail. I dont think so.

£80m is too much for any player, but that is the price MU put on him, probably to deter RM but RM were determined. You can buy players worth millions, whether you will help manage them further is another thing. I wont lie to you by saying Ronaldo's departure isnt a relief, but it is certainly some ease, subject to how MU respond without him.

I've always felt from the previous games at Anfield against MU, 06-07 & 07-08, that we could match them and beat them. We lost those games courtesy of a single goal in both via O'Shea and Tevez. Season gone we did that, without Ronaldo, Gerrard & Torres at Anfield & with those three fit in the return fixture.

Look towards Rooney now for that special MU player. Berbatov will have to come into it much more so with him upfront and Rooney behind him, that could be danger. We'll see.

6/12/2009 10:28 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely a great loss to AON, who has just penned a multi-millions shirt contract with ManU.

6/13/2009 3:02 am

Blogger T said...

Thanks for the comments everyone - most of them good to read!

Redsman, a comment worthy of an article! I like your description of players above the rest and why that is - and I like your description of Vieira 'fending off' opponents- that is exactly what he did with powerful ease. Great Arsenal player - perhaps the best.

These special players are special not just for their ability but for the 'intimidation factor' they bring to the pitch vis-a-vis opponents and the 'confidence factor' they instill in their own teammates. When they leave - the effect on their former clubs is both tangible and intangible.

6/13/2009 10:33 am

Blogger T said...

I have just come across this comment from Cesc Fabregas which underlines my senses about how the opposition will be pleased about the departure of Ronaldo - and how this added confidence will, perhaps decisively, change the dynamics of the rivalry between Man Utd and rest of the so-called 'top four':

"Ronaldo won the last two leagues on his own."

"The truth is it is a big piece of luck for the rest of us that he has gone. He is such a good player and very difficult to stop. It will be one problem less for us to deal with next season."

6/15/2009 6:12 pm


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