Cristiano Ronaldo’s omission from the starting eleven against Chelsea earlier this season by former interim boss, Michael Carrick triggered a very passionate debate on television between former red devil captain, Roy Keane and former Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher. While Roy Keane thinks the Portuguese captain should have started the game, Carragher backed Michael Carrick’s decision to leave him on the bench.
There have been more debates in the media about the compatibility of Ronaldo with his new teammates at Old Trafford. Although Roy Keane’s argument was backed by former United goalkeeper, Mark Bosnich, did Carragher have a point? Was the media correct for its criticisms?
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Now, back to the Ronaldo story;
Fairy Tale or Disaster?
The summer transfer window was relatively modest with teams acquiring the players of their choice, but then all of that changed as the sports media outfits all over the world went into a frenzy after rumors emerged that in a dramatic turn of events Cristiano Ronaldo has decided to return to the club that made him a star, he was coming back to Manchester but not the blue side as earlier rumored in the window.
The news broke the internet, fans and players of Manchester United, rival fans, Ronaldo fans, and players of Premier League clubs took to their social media to have their say. As a result, and considering the decent season Manchester United had the last season, where the club finished in second place, while also playing in the Europa league final, pundits and experts tipped Manchester United as one of the favorites to win the league.
But soon this story about the return of probably the most iconic prodigal son turned sour as the club began to struggle, losing a few high-profile games in the league and Europe.
Thus, a flurry of debates about his compatibility began to emerge in the media, but some ex-players like Bosnich have been the biggest supporters of the player in the media following his return.
So, who is Mark Bosnich? He was a professional football player from Australia who had a rather up and down playing career, but after his playing days, he is now a pundit and football analyst for some reputable football-based media outfits.
Who did Mark Bosnich play for? Aside from two playing stints at Manchester United (1989-1991 and 1999-2001) where he had a total of 26 caps thanks to a failed work visa permit the first time and an injury-laden second stint, he also played for Aston Villa, Sydney United, and Chelsea among others.
Apart from injuries, his career was marred by an addiction to cocaine, and controversies. The media talked about the infamous Mark Bosnich Nazi salute for a long time, an incident that occurred after he was jeered by Spurs fans while he was playing at Aston Villa. It is no surprise that a player like Bosnich who has endured a lot of criticism in his playing days will be in support of Ronaldo amidst censure by the media.
Having this in mind let’s take a look at the media circus and the 4 times Cristiano’s compatibility with his teammates has been questioned.
Keane Vs. Carragher
Roy Keane and Jammie Carragher are two players known for their fiery temperament and outspoken nature. The two weighed in on a discussion about whether Ronaldo should be starting every game taking into consideration his age and lack of pressing.
It is no secret that Ronaldo is one of the most disciplined and hardworking players, and the way he has taken care of his body should support this. However, age is supposed to take its toll on him, and therein lies a drawback in his overall game and why he can’t start every game especially as this puts more pressure on other players on the pitch to pick up the slack. This was a part of the argument made by Carragher but Roy Keane countered by arguing that considering his goal tallies throughout his career, and even since his return including a debut brace, he should be starting.
Bosnich, as pointed out earlier, agreed with Keane’s assertion and insisted that the right system should be adopted instead to make up for Ronaldo’s lack of pressing.
The Sacking of Ole
After the sacking of former Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer further arguments came up in the media, not just about Ronaldo’s compatibility with a teammate but also the former coach. Just hours after the news of Ronaldo’s return broke out, sport pundits already predicted that while Manchester United was now a better team with the signing, Ole was under more pressure to succeed.
Ultimately, a compilation of bad displays and lack of favorable tactics to bring the best out of players like Ronaldo, the proverbial axe came down and Ole’s reign was over.
Ronaldo’s Demanding Nature
After the disaster against major rivals; Liverpool and Manchester City with Ronaldo storming down the tunnel, the media began to turn up the inquisition into the attitude of Cristiano and how it could be affecting the other players at the club. While some sections of the media believed the player’s hunger for perfection is his greatest strength, others believe that it could be causing more harm than good.
Recently, after the draw against Newcastle United, Gary Neville also called out Ronaldo for putting too much pressure on the other players and his attitude of not acknowledging fans before leaving the pitch in anger.
Considering that he is probably one of the greatest football players of all time, and the younger players in the club idolize him, the media expected better from him.
The Curious Case of Bruno
Since making the switch from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, Ronaldo’s national teammate Bruno Fernandes has been an absolute star for the team, boasting an impressive goal contribution number rivaled only by a few. However, since the second coming of Ronaldo, those numbers have certainly diminished.
Some pundits have pointed to the fact that Bruno, who had great chemistry with the other players on the pitch since he became a red, now only looks to find Ronaldo instead of finding the available man as he did in the past, or getting the goals for himself. Definitely, some will say this is not good for team harmony.
At the end of the season, we will all know if the above criticisms are right or wrong, but one thing that can be said for sure is, there is still a lot of drama left in the season for Manchester United and Ronaldo.