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Ronaldo gets better 'n' better

I'm just throwing this out there but we all know, rather we are told often enough!!!, that Ronaldo rarely performs against the big teams or in the big games which is fairly correct.
He plays out on the wing and is man-marked usually by all around him, there is always at least two opposition players on top of him when he receives the ball. Now it is very hard for him to do much out on the wing, fifty yards from goals with two players tackling him.

So, why not play Ronaldo as the target man upfront in big games. If he were upfront on his own with Rooney playing in the hole just behind, it would definitely take pressure of the midfield and back four as all defences would first of all be very weary of Ronny and second of all he would be everywhere.

He is tall, built like a horse and possesses amazing speed, not to mention his dribbling abilities and his finishing abilities.

We often see Ronaldo go missing in Europe against defensive teams, e.g. Milan last season and Lyon to an extent this season.
Also, against Arsenal, he is always man-marked.

So, Ronaldo as the target man upfront and Rooney in the hole with perhaps Park on the right to swing in balls which Ronaldo could compete for.
He is proven in the air and has scored countless headers for United already.

What do you guys think?
 
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The Myth Of Ronaldo Not Being A Big Game Player

I wrote this for the newsroom but thought I'd post it here to see if you all agree :eek:

The media have been eager to report recently that goalscoring
machine Cristiano Ronaldo is not a big game player. They say
he only scores against the weaker teams and goes missing
against the better teams.

What they seem to forget is the fact that he has scored in an
FA Cup final, League Cup final, Champions League quarter final
and semi final, as well as scoring against Arsenal and Liverpool
this season.

They also don't mention that if he can manage to score in the
upcoming games against Chelsea and Middlesbrough, he will
have scored against EVERY Premiership team this season.

The Daily Mail took great pleasure last week in reporting that
Ronaldo had ONLY scored one goal past Arsenal, despite United
putting six past them in two games. It seems they failed to do
their research properly because Ronaldo wasn't even on the
bench for the FA Cup game in which United beat the Gunners
4-0, making it physically impossible to score. I'd say one goal
in one game against the London club is a very good record!

When are we going to see articles in newspapers like the Daily
Mail that are free from bias, properly researched and containing
a modicum of journalistic integrity, written by people who know
a thing or two about football? Don't hold your breath!!
 

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I think people confuse Ronaldo for Torres...he is the so called best striker in the world but cant score vs a top world class team/defence..and no ben haim vs chelsea is not a world class defence...he is a joke and should wear a liverpool jersey! Torres is only world class and the best vs your boro's and your west hams and when up against united he goes into rio's pocket lmao

Ronaldo does show up for big games...I would like to remind everyone of the Euro 04 where he playd excellently in all games...european championships are all big games...and the world cup too! And most of the time he is double man marked and what can someone do when he is in that position? Ronaldo has done excellently imo and is the best player in the world at the moment!
 

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-zuco- said:
The Daily Mail took great pleasure last week in reporting that
Ronaldo had ONLY scored one goal past Arsenal, despite United
putting six past them in two games. It seems they failed to do
their research properly because Ronaldo wasn't even on the
bench for the FA Cup game in which United beat the Gunners
4-0, making it physically impossible to score. I'd say one goal
in one game against the London club is a very good record!
Good point zucoldo...

However, it isn't only some of the 'biased' tabloids saying he doesn't perform in the big games, many respected sports journalists are saying the same.

Also, I believe there is a difference between scoring 'a goal' in a game and 'performing' in a game.

Ronaldo rarely has even near the same effect in the run of play in big games compered to against weaker teams. Often he finds himself marked out of games and unable to perform his trademark tricks.

But, because he is the player he is, and because our 'team' create so many chances in a game, he usually contributes a goal like against Liverpool at the weekend.

However, I ask you this.

Do you not think any other top player in the world would score a goal in a game against Liverpool where we (United the attacking team) create numerous chances.

And, would they perhaps have more impact on the game, e.g. Messi.


That is the question we should be asking hear. Ronaldo was 'poor' by his standards on Sunday and I believe we are not exploiting his talent in the big games as he is being marked out of games by man-markers out on the wing.
 

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Ronaldo Reminds Me Of Best - Ferguson

Source: Goal.com


Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that some of Cristiano Ronaldo's play this season reminds of the way George Best operated in his prime at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils' manager was reflecting on the Portuguese star's incredible season as he continues to score goals at will and earn all the plaudits.

Ronaldo has already re-written the record books as he beat Best's tally of goals for a winger at United when scoring his 33rd of the campaign against Bolton recently.

“There are certainly similarities [between Ronaldo and Best], “ Ferguson told Manchester United Radio.

“When George played as a winger I don’t think he ever stayed still. He roamed from side to side – he played on the right, the left and through the middle.

“I’ve looked at Best’s goals and a lot of Cristiano’s are similar. He starts from wide positions before cutting inside. The boy’s in tremendous form right now."

Ronaldo is still some way off overhauling the United club record for goals scored in a season, an amount that still belongs to Denis Law after he scored 46 times in the 1963-64 season.

Denis was a fantastic player – he was my hero – but I didn’t know that,” Sir Alex said. “That even beats my record! I scored 45 in 51 games for Dunfermline back in 1965/66," Ferguson concluded.



P.S.:eek: Maybe he can just guide Rooney a bit?:D ;)
 

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I think we will be very lucky to keep him for his best years , not that barca or real are any better than us , he must see they are in decline.
I think most europeans dream of playing for real or barca , and when they come knocking european players rarely refuse , just hope ronaldo does.
I do not think he will get hero worship anywhere else better than old trafford
 

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he already is a united legend. Its not just about age, its about what one achieves during the time they spend at a club. Ronaldo has been with us since he was 18, he is now 23 and last season was voted both young and best player of the year in the PL...the first since Andy Gray i believe. This season he beat goerge bests goal tally and he has the best goals scoring figures for a midfield player ever in the PL. When he leaves whether thats tomorrow or whenever, he will always go down as being a united legend. True story.

By the way about whether he ever does choose to join barca or madrid. That would not be a "greedy" chioce about money. For most players in europe they are the elite clubs along with milan in the world. Real Madrid is still the biggest club in the world so for them thats nothing about money, its about pride and honour. I hope he stays with us but thats something that only he can decide in the end. True story part 2,lol.

pz
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Agreed he just keeps going from strength to strength.
His goal today was an audacious flick, stunning to watch.
That was his 35th goal of the season, which is astonishing.
3 assists today were the icing on the cake. he ran the show,
and even the assists were pure quality.

He has now scored the same amount of goals (85) as Beckham did.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Ronaldo goal rate vs Shearer's


For those who didn't watch MOTD yesterday, they were talking to Shearer about
goals per game ratios in the league. They compared his with Ronaldo's,
and it just emphasizes the scale of Ronnie's achievement.

In the 42 game season of 94/95, Shearer got 34 goals, at a rate of .809 per game.
In the 38 game season of 95/96, he got 31, at a rate of .815 per game.

After 32 games, Ronaldo has 26 goals, a rate of .812 per game.

That's pretty incredible, when you consider Shearer is the all-time leading goalscorer
in the Premiership. For Ronaldo to be that close to his goals per game ratio
(obviously just based on this season) is amazing.
 

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Was Ronaldo's Flick The Goal Of The Season ?

Just when we thought that Cristiano
Ronaldo couldn't impress us any more
this season, he scores a goal of such
exquisite touch and invention that it
will be talked about for years to come
at Old Trafford.

Ronny opened the scoring with an
impudent back heel flick that nutmegged
Villa's Laursen inside the six yard box.
You can watch the goal here and let us
know if it's the best goal scored in the
Premier League this season...




 

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Eternal moment can give Ronaldo platform to claim place on greatest stage

I found this articly and thought you might find it interesting reading.
It points out that Ronaldo can seize the platform of the Champions League to propell himself to greatness at the same time arguing that the accusations that he is not a big-game player are unfounded. (I happen to disagree with this, but there are good arguments in this article.

Out of priniciple, I will not state where I got this from and will not credit the writer.

IT was a slip of the tongue, no more, but when Alex Ferguson said that Cristiano Ronaldo was so talented that he was capable of winning the Palme d'Or, suddenly it all made sense. Here was a player in such spectacular form that he was going to bypass the mundane awards that are handed to football players and go straight for first prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

He meant the Ballon d'Or, surely, but as the Manchester United manager once claimed that Roy Keane was so inspirational that he could lead his team to the Boat Race and the Grand National as well as the league championship, maybe he meant it.

Speculation about what Ronaldo can achieve as an individual has increased as his performances in the Premier League have drawn legitimate comparisons with George Best.

These in turn attract rebuttals from men of a certain age, who guard claims to Best's crown with a ferocity that borders on truculence. Until United lift a European Cup with Ronaldo in El Beatle form, nothing will be good enough, which seems harsh considering the Portugal winger has scored 35 goals for his club this season.

Amazingly, in the circumstances, the jury is out on the player, with the sceptics citing lame performances away to AC Milan in the Champions League and in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea last season as evidence that he is not a player for the big occasion. That could be about to change. If nothing Ronaldo has done in the Premier League is regarded as worthy -- and this seems a severe attitude, considering the physical demands of the English game -- he has five Champions League matches left this season to prove beyond argument that he is the real thing, starting in Rome this evening and, with luck, ending in the final in Moscow on May 21.

It was the head-to-head in Milan that helped to seal the individual prizes for Kaka last season. As influential in the San Siro as Ronaldo was anonymous, he mopped up the titles of World Player and European Footballer of the Year and understandably so. This season, Ronaldo only needs his defining moment, the performance that will underline his brilliance and confirm the value of what the English public has been witnessing all season.

If Ferguson did not seem affronted by the suggestion that Ronaldo has some distance to travel before his talent is recognised worldwide -- and the Italians require some convincing after the damp squib in Milan -- this is probably because he is aware of the powerful weapon that is a talented player with a point to prove.

Announce that Ronaldo does not have to dominate in Europe to attain greatness and he could lose motivation. So, while endorsing his player completely, Ferguson cleverly left the door open just enough to deliver a challenging reminder of how Ronaldo could silence the cynical beyond retort.

"As for the Palme d'Or," Ferguson said, meaning Ballon d'Or, awarded to the European Footballer of the Year, "I think Cristiano will have a big chance of winning it, but we will have to get to the Champions League final because if we do it will enhance his opportunity. He hasn't had as much European football as a lot of the top players and I think his age, 23, is one aspect of why he has not got there yet.

"I think he has matured, though, and in two or three years' time the questions about his performances in big matches will not be asked.

"We see development in every department of his game in domestic football and he will eventually show his attributes in Europe. Basically, the more he plays, the more he will display those qualities. I have absolutely no fears about that. I am delighted to be bringing this player to Rome, with his incredible improvement and his goalscoring performances. It is a big advantage for us."

The idea that Ronaldo has never performed when the pressure is at its most intense does not stack up anyway. In this Champions League season he has scored six goals in seven matches. He was one of the stars of the European Championships in 2004 and guided his country to the 2006 World Cup semi-finals in Germany.

Portugal have made it to Euro 2008, too, with Ronaldo scoring eight times in that campaign. Most significantly, he has refined the style of the modern Manchester United, becoming as important as Eric Cantona was. It is his performances in the past two seasons that have taken this United team to the brink of greatness.

Ronaldo's genius is his uniqueness, not only the audacious back-heel that opened the scoring against Aston Villa on Saturday, but his free kicks, struck in an individual way, that cannot be imitated or bettered.

It seems strange that confirmation of this ability should depend on the odd 90 minutes of football, rather than the weeks and months in which he has been shown to be the best, but just as Colin Montgomerie needed his major and Tim Henman his Grand Slam to be elevated to the elite, so Ronaldo needs a starring role in Europe. Time is on his side, however. He will get it one day; perhaps sooner than many think. (© The Times, London)

- Martin Samuel

As you can see, I was just kidding about not crediting the writer.
he is Martin Samuel, this article is copy right of the London times and I read it on www.independent.ie. I then transfered it to this forum via my IBM laptop. :D

Peace!
 

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Scholes - RONALDO BEST EVER !!!

Paul Scholes feels that Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player he has ever had the pleasure of working with.



The announcement is a remarkable tribute to the Portuguese winger's talents, as former England international Scholes has played alongside some of the greats of the game during a glittering 14-year career.


Some of his domestic team-mates over that period include the likes of Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and David Beckham, while on an international level he has rubbed shoulders with Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer and Michael Owen.


Scholes accepts that he has been fortunate to have featured alongside a host of stars in his time, but rates Ronaldo as the pick of the bunch in terms of pure ability.



Amazing


"I have been lucky to have played with a lot of great players," he said.


"Cristiano has to be at the top now, after what he has done this season.


"Scoring the amount of goals from his position has been nothing short of amazing.


"It is not just that though, it is the way he makes chances and the threat he poses to other teams."


Ronaldo has not just set the Premier League alight this season though, he has also notched six goals in seven UEFA Champions League games.


With a tough trip to Roma facing the Red Devils on Tuesday, Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping for more magic from his young goal-machine in the quarter-final encounter.


"You have to remember Cristiano has only just turned 23," said the United boss.


"We have seen a development in every part of his game in domestic football.


"That's why we are delighted to bring a player back to Rome who has made an incredible improvement in the last year.


"Cristiano's goal scoring performances have been a big advantage to us as we all know."

WHY DIDN'T ANYONE LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS ??? This is a huge thing
 

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Will Ronaldo's extravagant skills actually land him in trouble?

Yet another thread on Ronaldo!! But before you cringe or curse, this thread is indeed something quite different. It may be a big concern because it happened yet again. Read on....

Source: Teamtalk.com

Pizarro slams 'big head' Ronaldo

Roma midfielder David Pizarro has lashed out at Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, labelling the winger a "big head".

Pizarro accused Ronaldo of showing arrogance and a lack of respect towards his opponents in United's 2-0 Champions League quarter-final first-leg win in the Eternal City on Tuesday night.

Ronaldo, who scored the opener with a stunning header and almost made it 3-0 when he hit the bar, was booed by the home crowd for teasing opposing defenders with his tricks on the pitch.

"Despite the fact that he is a great champion, he is very arrogant," said Pizarro. "He does certain spiteful things on the pitch.

"This is the ugliest thing for a player.

"Some of his little tricks in the middle of the pitch were unnecessary and he needs to show some respect to his opposition. In the return leg, I will have something to say to him."


Portugal star Ronaldo defended his actions after helping his team put one foot in the semi-finals.

"It's nothing against my rivals," said the 23-year-old. "Those plays are just part of my way of interpreting football.

"I have always done them, even three or four years ago when I was younger.

"But there are plays that I do for the good of the team and never to ridicule my opponents.

"I tried to do the best for Manchester United and not to make a show.

"It's just a part of who I am."

Ronaldo believes Roma have improved since last year - when United eliminated the Giallorossi with a humiliating 7-1 defeat at Old Trafford at the same stage of the competition - but insists United have also also grown stronger in the last 12 months.

"I don't think we can talk about a Roma weakness but rather about the strength of Manchester United," he said.

"Last season we didn't know Roma but this time, we have been perfect in defence."

Despite his team having taken a giant step towards the last four, Ronaldo prefers to remain cautious.

"It would be bad to think we have done the job," he warned. "We have next week's game and although a win away from home gives us confidence, we still have to seal qualification."




It is widely acknowledged by fans worldwide that Ronaldo could well be the best player in the world soon with his current form, if not, at least amongst the top 3, in close competition with Kaka of AC Milan and Messi of Barcelona.

His silky ball skills, dribbling, free kicks, phenomenal scoring record as a non-striker this season, overall performance and impact to team etc have been most exquisite and top draw.

Yet we all know opponents have sometimes complained bitterly about his apparent arrogance and lack of respect for them, mainly through certain extravagant stepovers, ball juggling and alike or what the media coined as "showboating".
Some merely complained loudly thereafter but others may just 'react violently' in the heat of the moment or even harbour secret 'ambition' to seriously hurt him should bad blood develop into a personal grudge. [Hope not.]

What do you think? Does Ronaldo sometimes perhaps have overdone things a liitle? Will he land himself in big trouble or serious injury if he does not curb some extravagant displays that opponents may just not take too kindly to?
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Its more his petulance, 'diving' and theatrics(arms in air, pulling a 'who me?' face)
that gets to me. I dont really have a problem with his stepovers and tricks etc.
I think it adds to the excitement of the game. I think it will land Ronnie is some
trouble or other but when and what that is remains to be seen.
Its clear that he is as much loved as he is hated by the neutral and he does
have certain aspects to his game that he could improve upon for him to be the
undisputed, most respected and feared footballers ever.
Its obvious that most United fans prefer characters like Rooney for eg, rather
than Ronnie. but if he keeps scoring 30+ a season who gives a rats?
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Ronaldo is officially untouchable. 36 goals this season.
Its just getting ridiculous at this stage.
And after his lovely flick against Villa he follows it up with
this soaring, bullet of a header in a 'Big game'.
This kis just gets better and better.



Look how high he is off the ground. im speechless....
 

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Enough Of Ronaldo Bashing, He's The Best

Source: Goal.com



After another match-winning contribution at Rome's Stadio Olimpico raised his stock still higher, Cristiano Ronaldo's credentials as the world's best player are getting harder and harder to ignore.

Indeed, by his performances throughout this season, Ronaldo has effectively made a mockery of last December's Fifa World Player of the Year awards, which placed him third behind winner Kaka and runner-up Lionel Messi. For the priceless combination of compelling entertainment and match-winning end-product, the Manchester United winger has had no equal for some time - certainly not Kaka this season. The Brazilian who also pipped Ronaldo to the title of European Footballer of the Year 2007 (Ballon d'Or) has been put firmly in the shade by the continuing exploits of Ronaldo.

Why then, do the Portuguese star's critics continue to resist the evidence of their own eyes, and the remarkable statistics? Why does a player like Kaka attract fulsome praise almost unconditionally, while the plaudits for Ronaldo are so often grudgingly given?

I'm no great fan of player awards, still less of often spurious comparisons between players, especially those in different leagues or from different eras. I'm also far from being a fan of Manchester United or anything about them. But jealousy, envy or sheer prejudice are no criteria for judgement, and if we are going to judge Ronaldo as a footballer, it is impossible to refute the facts.

For his consistency over two seasons, the first of them beginning in the wake of the apparent low-point of his infamous wink at the 2006 World Cup, Ronaldo takes some beating.

Furthermore, on the domestic front, his goals have essentially been the difference between Manchester United and the other members of the Premier League's 'Big Four'.

He's now scored 59 goals for Manchester United in all competitions during the course of the last two campaigns. In the current one, which still has plenty of life left in it, Ronaldo already has 36 to his name - an astonishing return for a winger.

And of course the bald statistics do not tell you anything about the quality of his goals, which in many cases recently has been breathtaking.

Why then the continued negativity towards him?

There seem to be four sticks with which critics like to beat Ronaldo. The first - that he plays for Manchester United - can be dismissed summarily. United have millions of fans but millions more detractors; that's the nature of football. Refusing to acknowledge their quality - and the calibre of their top players - because of simple jealousy is plainly irrational.

The second stick is that Ronaldo is an arrogant show-boater, a luxury player whose self-indulgent tricks on the ball not only detract from the team but deliberately antagonise opponents by seeking to expose their technical weaknesses.

Roma midfielder David Pizarro was quick to wield this particular stick after United's victory over Roma last night, amazingly accusing Ronaldo of doing "certain spiteful things on the pitch." Like beating his marker with superior skill?

Ronaldo himself answered the charge by insisting his trademark step-overs and other sleight-of-foot tricks are, "nothing against my rivals." He explained: "Those plays are just part of my way of interpreting football. I have always done them, even three or four years ago when I was younger. But there are plays that I do for the good of the team and never to ridicule my opponents. I tried to do the best for Manchester United and not to make a show. It's just a part of who I am."

Personally I am saddened when highly skilled players feel obliged to apologise for their superior techical gifts. There was the case recently, for example, when Ronaldo's team-mate and compatriot Nani was pilloried for having the temerity to juggle the ball against Arsenal. That was wrongly construed as disrespect, but it's surely bizarre that in a game that professes to be entertainment, the entertainers are lambasted for being entertaining.

As for the charge that Ronaldo is not a team player, that is sheer nonsense. For one thing, the statistics show that while he has amassed 86 goals for United since joining them in 2003, he has also contributed 42 assists. Selfish? Hardly. For another, his work-rate is prodigious, with crosses, assists, chasing back and defending as much a part of all-round game now as the mazy runs and the flow of goals.

Then there is the third stick: that Ronaldo is a diver. Only he will know whether every time he has gone to ground it was in response to genuine contact, but certainly that side of his game has improved significantly, and of course anyone playing the game at the speed he does is not only a target for a late tackle, but also more likely to tumble when clipped. It's as much to do with physics and physique as psychology.

The associated criticism, that he lacks bravery, was surely conclusively answered in Rome when he leaped to head that opening goal, injuring himself in the process but showing only raw determination to get to the ball no matter what.

The fourth stick that Ronaldo has often been beaten with is that he is not a big-game player. This hoary old chestnut gained enthusiastic currency when he failed to make much impact at the San Siro last season in the Champions League semi-final against Milan. That tie also helped push Kaka's claims ahead of Ronaldo's.

But since then, Ronaldo has consistently delivered when it mattered, up to and including last night. Indeed, he has answered his critics emphatically since then, scoring ten in his last 11 appearances in the Champions League, including crucial winning strikes against Sporting Lisbon (twice), Lyon and now Roma. That latest strike made him the current top scorer in this season's tournament.

Meanwhile, Kaka has struggled to deliver this season, not only in Serie A where Milan have endured a difficult time, but also in the Champions League. In the two games against Arsenal, the Brazilian star was effectively eclipsed, or at least marginalised, by the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini.

In contrast, Ronaldo has consistently stood up to be counted - and then delivered - whenever United have needed him to this season.

Like him or loathe him, right now there is not a better player in the world than Cristiano Ronaldo. So perhaps it's time to throw our hands up and admit it. And perhaps it's time for the polls outside of England to reflect it.
 

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I Changed My Mind About Ronaldo - Lippi

Source: Goal.com

One of the people who were impressed by Cristiano Ronaldo's elusive performance yesterday against AS Roma was former World Cup winning coach, Marcello Lippi, who admitted that he has changed his opinion about the player.

After yesterday night's Uefa Champions League match between Manchester United and AS Roma at the Stadium Olimpico of Rome, many Italian football followers were left very impressed by Cristiano Ronaldo's performance. One of those who changed their opinion of the Portuguese star was currently unemployed coach Marcello Lippi.

"I must admit I didn't like him very much before," Lippi said, "I didn't like all those fancy moves, the way he played around with the ball, I had the impression that this irritated and offended his opponents. Apparently I was wrong."

Not that wrong, as it turned out. Ronaldo's attitude did leave a bad feeling among several Roma players, midfielder David Pizarro being the most outspoken about it. But according to Lippi, Ronaldo's style doesn't show a lack of respect.

"I've realised that this is the way he plays, there's no irreverence towards anybody, it's just the way he expresses himself," Lippi concluded.

Asked if he had ever had the chance to sign the player during his coaching days at Juventus, as has been rumoured: "I don't remember ever being offered Cristiano Ronaldo, perhaps my memory isn't that good, but I don't think it's a very substantiated rumour."
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Ronaldo's goals in the season 2007/2008 until April 2, 2008:

- 36 goals in 40 matches (26 in the EPL, 7 in the CL and 3 in the FA Cup)
- 1 hat trick (against Newcastle)
- in 9 matches he scored twice (against Wigan, Kiev, Blackburn, Fulham, Everton, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Newcastle and Bolton)
Not too shabby for a winger. :p
 

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Ferguson - You can't stop Ronaldo

Sir Alex Ferguson insists that Cristiano Ronaldo will never be scared to play his game.

Ronaldo's stunning form over the last few seasons has seen him targeted by a number of players who take exemption to his wonderful skills.

After another scintillating display in midweek against Roma in United's UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg win - Ronaldo was branded as disrespectful by the Italians.

But Ferguson is unfazed and is insisting his star-man will continue to play his own game and he does not need to be afraid of anyone.

"The most important message Cristiano is giving out is that he is a great player who is not afraid to take the ball and beat a man," said Ferguson.

"That is what he is saying in whatever fashion he does it. He has ability and expression in his play and we encourage that with all the players.



"In this modern day it's a breath of fresh air and he will not be afraid to do it.

"That is what people pay to see. Perhaps it annoys opponents he is prepared to take the ball to them."

Ferguson, who has previously called on Ronaldo to be looked after by referees, does not see how anyone could kick him out of any game.

"Ronaldo is a winner. They cannot kick him out of the game," he said.

"He will always get up and carry on playing.

"It will not worry him if Roma come looking for him in the second leg."
 

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Great Ronaldo article !

Indeed, by his performances throughout this season, Ronaldo has effectively made a mockery of last December's Fifa World Player of the Year awards, which placed him third behind winner Kaka and runner-up Lionel Messi. For the priceless combination of compelling entertainment and match-winning end-product, the Manchester United winger has had no equal for some time - certainly not Kaka this season. The Brazilian who also pipped Ronaldo to the title of European Footballer of the Year 2007 (Ballon d'Or) has been put firmly in the shade by the continuing exploits of Ronaldo.

Why then, do the Portuguese star's critics continue to resist the evidence of their own eyes, and the remarkable statistics? Why does a player like Kaka attract fulsome praise almost unconditionally, while the plaudits for Ronaldo are so often grudgingly given?

I'm no great fan of player awards, still less of often spurious comparisons between players, especially those in different leagues or from different eras. I'm also far from being a fan of Manchester United or anything about them. But jealousy, envy or sheer prejudice are no criteria for judgement, and if we are going to judge Ronaldo as a footballer, it is impossible to refute the facts.

For his consistency over two seasons, the first of them beginning in the wake of the apparent low-point of his infamous wink at the 2006 World Cup, Ronaldo takes some beating.

Furthermore, on the domestic front, his goals have essentially been the difference between Manchester United and the other members of the Premier League's 'Big Four'.

He's now scored 59 goals for Manchester United in all competitions during the course of the last two campaigns. In the current one, which still has plenty of life left in it, Ronaldo already has 36 to his name - an astonishing return for a winger.

And of course the bald statistics do not tell you anything about the quality of his goals, which in many cases recently has been breathtaking.

Why then the continued negativity towards him?

There seem to be four sticks with which critics like to beat Ronaldo. The first - that he plays for Manchester United - can be dismissed summarily. United have millions of fans but millions more detractors; that's the nature of football. Refusing to acknowledge their quality - and the calibre of their top players - because of simple jealousy is plainly irrational.

The second stick is that Ronaldo is an arrogant show-boater, a luxury player whose self-indulgent tricks on the ball not only detract from the team but deliberately antagonise opponents by seeking to expose their technical weaknesses.

Roma midfielder David Pizarro was quick to wield this particular stick after United's victory over Roma last night, amazingly accusing Ronaldo of doing "certain spiteful things on the pitch." Like beating his marker with superior skill?

Ronaldo himself answered the charge by insisting his trademark step-overs and other sleight-of-foot tricks are, "nothing against my rivals." He explained: "Those plays are just part of my way of interpreting football. I have always done them, even three or four years ago when I was younger. But there are plays that I do for the good of the team and never to ridicule my opponents. I tried to do the best for Manchester United and not to make a show. It's just a part of who I am."

Personally I am saddened when highly skilled players feel obliged to apologise for their superior techical gifts. There was the case recently, for example, when Ronaldo's team-mate and compatriot Nani was pilloried for having the temerity to juggle the ball against Arsenal. That was wrongly construed as disrespect, but it's surely bizarre that in a game that professes to be entertainment, the entertainers are lambasted for being entertaining.

As for the charge that Ronaldo is not a team player, that is sheer nonsense. For one thing, the statistics show that while he has amassed 86 goals for United since joining them in 2003, he has also contributed 42 assists. Selfish? Hardly. For another, his work-rate is prodigious, with crosses, assists, chasing back and defending as much a part of all-round game now as the mazy runs and the flow of goals.

Then there is the third stick: that Ronaldo is a diver. Only he will know whether every time he has gone to ground it was in response to genuine contact, but certainly that side of his game has improved significantly, and of course anyone playing the game at the speed he does is not only a target for a late tackle, but also more likely to tumble when clipped. It's as much to do with physics and physique as psychology.

The associated criticism, that he lacks bravery, was surely conclusively answered in Rome when he leaped to head that opening goal, injuring himself in the process but showing only raw determination to get to the ball no matter what.

The fourth stick that Ronaldo has often been beaten with is that he is not a big-game player. This hoary old chestnut gained enthusiastic currency when he failed to make much impact at the San Siro last season in the Champions League semi-final against Milan. That tie also helped push Kaka's claims ahead of Ronaldo's.

But since then, Ronaldo has consistently delivered when it mattered, up to and including last night. Indeed, he has answered his critics emphatically since then, scoring ten in his last 11 appearances in the Champions League, including crucial winning strikes against Sporting Lisbon (twice), Lyon and now Roma. That latest strike made him the current top scorer in this season's tournament.

Meanwhile, Kaka has struggled to deliver this season, not only in Serie A where Milan have endured a difficult time, but also in the Champions League. In the two games against Arsenal, the Brazilian star was effectively eclipsed, or at least marginalised, by the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini.

In contrast, Ronaldo has consistently stood up to be counted - and then delivered - whenever United have needed him to this season.

Like him or loathe him, right now there is not a better player in the world than Cristiano Ronaldo. So perhaps it's time to throw our hands up and admit it. And perhaps it's time for the polls outside of England to reflect it.
 
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