Whilst sitting and watching the unveiling of Cristiano Ronaldo to a packed Bernabeu, I felt no anger. As a Manchester United fan, I only feel a slight dissapointment that we didn’t get another couple of years out of the boy. Ronaldo is truly a phenomenal player, and rightly so regarded to be one of the best, if not the best in the world. I’ve enjoyed many moments at Old Trafford where he has done a truly mesmerising skill and made someone look a fool, I’ve watched in amazement as he kills a ball dead, that has been lumped up the pitch 70 yards to him. In fact, over the last few years, I have taken my seat at games early to watch United warm up, because watching Ronaldo with a ball at his feet, as he psyches himself up, is worth the ticket cost alone.
But this is where I have a problem. We no longer possess a player with the sort of flair Ronaldo provided. Yes Giggs, Rooney, Anderson, Berba and Evra even are skilful but there not on the same planet as Ronaldo. There is only one player in the world today, who could replace and Barcelona won’t be selling him for all the money in the world. His contribution to the team will be sorely missed, almost winning the Golden boot, despite missing out on the first couple of months, is quite some achievement.
As I said before, I harbour no ill feeling toward Cristiano for realising his dream. A dream at the end of the day, is a dream and all of us in the same situation, would have done the same. In the aftermath, the way he has spoken about United is pleasing, he is respectful in all his comments and you can tell there is sadness at leaving, but this is combined with his excitement for playing Real.
So what next for Manchester United?
Sir Alex splashed the cash on Antonio Valencia from Wigan for around the £16 million mark. Yes he has shown himself to be a top talent, but whether he can prove to be world class at Manchester United, I am not sure. He has the pace and a fierce shot on him, but he doesn’t have the skills to beat players. To me it just seems that raw pace, is his only weapon against defenders. His crossing isn’t bad, but will he be able to contribute to a decent level? I’m not so sure.
I was talking to some fellow bloggers about it and I still believe someone who could have come alive at Manchester United, is David Bentley. Ok, so I can hear you laughing from here, but if we just forget the season he has had at Spurs and cast our minds back to his Blackburn days, my thoughts make a bit more sense. His initials sum him up for me, DB. The last person with those initials that played right wing at Old Trafford, played the position the same way as Bentley. Not the quickest of lads, nor did e have the biggest box of tricks, but his right foot was deadly accurate in a cross, which was priceless, especially playing with a predator like Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Not to mention his dead ball ability. I feel Bentley could have done the same job for United and having Sir Alex as boss, it would ensure he wouldn’t slack. Bentley even has the added bonus of having a half decent left peg on him, but I think its fair to say, we won’t see him playing in red at Old Trafford, any time soon.
Next is a man who actually had a transfer bid rejected for him last night, and it wasn’t from Real Madrid! Are United looking to spend some of the Ronaldo money on Franck Ribery? We will soon see. Ribery is perhaps a man who could replace Ronaldo very closely. He can beat players, he has flair, he contributes with goals and assists for FC Bayern, if he was a couple of years younger, he would have been perfect. There is only one reason stopping Man United signing him and that is the ridiculous price tag put on him. It reportedly stands at 80 million Euros, which is far too much. I know what you’re saying. Ronaldo was sold for £80 million pounds. The thing with Ronaldo was, his brand will bring in so much money to Real (in merchandising), that he will probably pay that transfer fee and his own salary, within the next two years. (Brand Beckham had a similar effect at Real, as their profits went up by 137% earned on merchandising. The most popular Adidas shirt in the world last year, was reportedly the LA Galaxy jersey, go figure.) Ribery does not have the same brand appeal and so signing him will only make a difference on the pitch and not off it. If he can be picked up around the £30 mill mark it would be good business, but any more is too much.
There were a few others in consideration. Man United are sniffing around Gremio’s Douglas Costa. I have read that he is the next Ronaldinho, however, because I haven’t seen him play I don’t think it would be fair to comment. Theo Walcott was another who I was thinking could be a replacement but he is too inconsistent. Another man who is a delightful midfielder, is Andrei Arshavin. Its just a shame that he wasn’t brought to England sooner and by Manchester United. He is quick, two good feet, exciting and most importantly he is an honest footballer. The last few months, its been good watching him, especially when he bagged four goals against Liverpool. But he is the wrong side of 27 and for that reason alone, he won’t be considered by the board.
Which brings me to wrapping up this article. Gabriel Obertan is having a medical at United. I don’t know an awful lot about this guy, apart from what I read. He was voted MVP at the Toulon Tournament (a world under-21 tournament) and is being chased by Europe’s elite. I decided to check him out on youtube and that is when I started to think, oh dear. He is able to use a bit of skill, rather uncomfortably by the looks of it, and he tries, but I couldn’t see too much else. After a bit of thinking, I remembered what an 18 year old Cristiano Ronaldo was like at United for the first couple of seasons. Laurent Blanc is boss at Bordeaux and following his past at Old Trafford he wouldn’t sell Sir a dud. This makes me think, this guy must have the raw attributes, that Sir Alex believes he can mould into something special. So lets hope in a couple of years time, Mr Obertan is a bit more Ronaldo and a little less Bellion x