The ego has landed
Cristiano Ronaldo – who needs him?
By Guy Hedgecoe
To have one Portuguese egomaniac in your football club, as Oscar Wilde might have said, is unfortunate. To have two, is careless. In which case, Real Madrid are guilty of the latter.
But the club’s argument for having José Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo on its payroll is that they are the best in the world and their results speak for themselves. Mourinho’s weird tantrums and coded outbursts have become an accepted part of the Spanish football season – like the regular threat of a players’ strike, or unsubstantiated media claims that referees are being paid by Barça. Normally, Mourinho has some kind of objective when he performs them: pressuring for a new striker, for example, or agitating for the club to sack its director general.
But what does Ronaldo want when he says “I’m sad”? A bigger salary? More friends? A hug? What do you give the man who has pretty much everything – apart from his feet on the ground?
Much of the speculation surrounding Ronaldo’s mixed-zone Jedi-speak has focused on the reported “lack of respect” he receives in the Real Madrid dressing room. If that is the case, club President Florentino Pérez has himself to blame by spending a mega fortune on bringing the likes of Ronaldo, Kaká and Karim Benzema under the same roof as local favourites Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso.
Those Spanish players have seen their reputations burnished since Ronaldo’s arrival with their performances for their country. While Ronaldo fails to shine with Portugal and has just one liga and one Copa del Rey title to show for his three seasons in Madrid, Casillas, Ramos and Alonso have completed a hat-trick of international titles. Moreover, none of them gets treated with quite the same routine standoffishness that Real Madrid fans have at times aimed at Ronaldo, as a big-name foreigner.
If Ronaldo, who earns around €1 million per month, is pushing for more money, then it’s hard to feel sympathy for his “sadness”. And if he is genuinely upset at not being respected in the dressing room, then it’s hard to think of a more infantile response.
The idea of Real Madrid without Ronaldo is hard to imagine, so key has he been to the team recently. But there’s only so much talent and ego that one squad can accommodate and after his bizarre, sulky outburst at the weekend, even Real Madrid fans would be forgiven for starting to imagine – or dream of – a future without him.
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