Book Ronaldo on first vessel to Madeira

Late on Sunday afternoon Sky Sports tweeted as ‘breaking news’ that Manchester United were considering the termination of Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract if he does not change his attitude, and while Sky have since deleted that tweet, one has to accept, again, that there is fire where this puff of smoke came from.

Ronaldo has always had the bad habit of showing, through his body language, when he is an unhappy chappy. Remember his big mouth at the end of his first spell at Manchester United when all he wanted was to piss off to Real Madrid? And, after several years there, do you recall the drooping shoulders and sloppy play when he wanted out? And then, at Juventus…? Well, need we say more?

Ronaldo clearly enjoys the huge worldwide reaction he gets when he as much as twitches an eye. In “Ronaldo has punctured the membrane of reality’, we wrote last year about how his moving two Coke bottles away from him and out of the camera’s frame during a press conference at the Euro 2020, caused the soft-drink giant’s share price to fall!

Now, however, his spoilt-brat antics are going beyond self-indulgence to pure lack of respect for the club who made him the phenomenon he is, and of whom he stated on his return last year, kwowing what he was in for, “I love the club and the fans, I am here to help!”

There is a short clip doing its rounds on social media of Ronaldo giving Erik Ten Hag a look of disrespect when he gets an instruction during a water break in their recent Brighton match. During Saturday’s show of shock and horror at Brentford, Ronaldo again had a face like a smacked bum, threw his hands in the air at times, ran half-heartedly on the pitch and reportedly refused to applaud United’s travelling crowd after the match.

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The man wants to go, that is clear as daylight, and United should be packing his bags and getting him on the first boat to Madeira. His misery and displays of unhappy despondency hand extra baggage to the terribly embattled club. Ronaldo had a big opportunity here to show his leadership and perhaps even future managerial skills, but he’s fucked it up. The guy is pushing 40, he’s way past his best and on a two-year contract due to his cult hero status at the club and because his No 7 shirt still presents a big income to them.

The graceful thing for Ronaldo to do is to play out his contract in gentlemanly and sportsmanlike fashion because he owes the club, they don’t owe him. That seems unlikely to happen, because he is not wired that way. He wants to play a few more European Championship matches (one has to wonder for which team?) and perhaps fluke a few goals. The adrenaline rush that goes with his post-goal mid-air pirouettes will soon run dry. He’s trying to squeeze more juice from an old lemon.

So, he scored 30 goals last season. Chances are he won’t score half of that this season. If one looks at the 19 other Premier League teams, it’s hard to come up with a single team that Man United are good enough to beat. From what we’ve seen, they may well be relegation-threatened in April next year!

CAPITALISM’S UGLY FACE(S): Avram and Joel Glazer are accused of bleeding United dry.

The comedy of errors didn’t stop when Ten Hag joined the club. Already lumbered with the oafish Harry Maguire (wouldn’t you like to back a tortoise in a race with hapless Harry?), an injury-ridden has-been in Raphael Varane and the world’s most over-rated player in Jadon Sancho, United’s response in getting a tall, strong, authoritative defender on the squad was buying Lisandro Martinez. What was their reasoning? They need a giant but buy a dwarf? The mind boggles!

In midfield, the weak spots every United fan and soccer expert identified a year ago are still there. A guest on Ben Foster’s popular Fozcast (possibly Mark Goldridge) described Fred as “simply crap” and Scott Mctominay’s holding on to his position as “the biggest mystery in football”.  We’re fully in agreement.

From this very Monday blog on 21 September last year, the following: “Most football fans, even Man Utd-haters, would have been riveted by Christiano Ronaldo’s fairytale return to his former club on Saturday. With the showbiz now over, however, we know this: While United eventually got the better of the minnows from Newcastle, they do not have the strength in midfield to win the Premier League, let alone the Champions League. They’ll probably burgle a minor title this season, but even if they have Ronaldo, Cavani, Greenwood and Rashford on the pitch and added Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, they’re not going to topple the major teams with the likes of Fred and Mattic in midfield. It cannot happen. They cannot compete with what City, Chelsea or Liverpool have to offer. To win an EPL title you need one essential basic: A powerful midfield with a world-class, defensive midfielder. It boggles the mind why United have spent so much on attackers with their midfield not near settled or consistently competitive. At season’s end, management’s inability to secure a rock in the centre of the pitch will probably cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job.”

The leadership remains poor, thought processes are muddled and decision-making is hasty at the formerly great football club and Gary Neville blamed the club’s owners, the Glazers, in a scathing weekend attack, saying: “Here is a family in America that is letting its employees take the blame. They need to get on a plane to Manchester and explain what the plan is. We never will have the Glazers here. The only money that has been spent on players has been generated by the club.

“The Glazers have borrowed and used the revenue the club generates through its amazing fanbase. My point is there has been a toxic culture at this club for the last 10 years since Alex Ferguson and David Gill left. It’s a mess.

“And it cannot continue to go on. The embedded failure over a ten-year period has to come back to the owner. I blamed Woodward for a long time but the Glazers left him in situ. They haven’t dealt with the football ground which is rusting.

“They need a billion for the stadium and probably a few hundred million for the training facilities. They were cash rich a few years ago now they’re struggling. Something has to give.”

What may ‘give’, this season, could be United’s hold on a Premier League spot. We’ve seen stranger things happen. Leicester won the league in 2016. Rio Ferdinand gets airtime from media outlets. Rishi Sunak is a leader in the race for 10 Downing Street. Joe Biden is President of the United States.

Let’s prepare for the worst with Manchester United and hope to be surprised. – IRC.

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