Ronaldo in a class of his own?

by Matt Quinn

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Ronaldo needs to be playing in La Liga

Cristiano Ronaldo’s headed goal against Liverpool this weekend was his 34th of the season and his 25th in the league. He has managed to score against every team in the premiership apart from Manchester City, against whom he was suspended, Chelsea and Middlesbrough. He faces the latter two teams in the season run-in.

He has scored 20 goals in 54 games for Portugal and he is only 23 years old. These are remarkable statistics and tangible proof of the end product he has added to his already exhilarating and flamboyant wing-play. Indeed, that is the most remarkable aspect of these statistics. Ronaldo plays on the wing. He scores free-kicks, headers, tap-ins, solo goals…. Basically he just scores.


So is he the best player in the world? The goals to games ratio is without parallel in any of the other top leagues in the world. There is talk of him not doing it in the big games, although his performances for Portugal would suggest otherwise. He is seemingly without a flaw in his game, yet for me, there has been something missing from his performances over the last 3 or 4 months. He has been embarking less frequently on his usual mazy dribbles, streaming less effortlessly past player after player. I still love watching him, but more regularly im left feeling disappointed by his performances. Left wanting more, even if he walks off the pitch having scored two. He has become functional, which while brilliant for United fans, has meant he has become aesthetically less pleasing for the neutral. Ronaldinho in his pomp at Barcelona was able to combine outrageous flair with end product. For me, Ronaldo has yet to do this. He either plays with panache or with ruthless efficiency, very rarely combining the two.

To be honest, I feel a little embarrassed to be criticising any aspect of Ronaldo as there can be no doubt he is in the top 5 players in the world. He is by far and away the best player in the Premiership. Indeed, I’m aware that I’m nit-picking but I honestly feel that he has been playing for much of this year without overly exerting himself. This in itself is a measure of how good he is. He is breaking records without breaking sweat. If this continues next season, and he continues to ease through games, while helping himself to a sackful of goals, I fully expect to him to demand a move to Spain to, if nothing else, test himself in another league. In the premiership, he knows he is the best, even if he is playing in 2nd gear. This may be why i’ve been feeling more and more empty by his performances. A move to Spain will give him extra incentive to display his full array of skills and potential. A move to Spain will also see him pitched up against, in my view, his two main rivals for the title “best player in the world”. The Barcelona pair of Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. For me, Messi is a player that comes along once every 50 years and will be, fitness permitting, without parallel in the world game for over a decade. If one player in the world can rival Messi though, it is Cristiano Ronaldo. However, I believe he needs to be tested more frequently to push himself to the next level. Unfortunately for all Premiership fans this may mean a move to La Liga to set up a mouthwatering head to head with the little Argentine. If this does happen, there can be no argument that English football will be a poorer place without him.

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  • Darren

    sorry Matt, but I think you are wrong, the boy, and I use that word, boy, is a total genius. When he first came to England I had numerous debates with plastic Man Utd fans, not mentioning any names Tah. I used to call him a playground player, there was no end product, a little like Pleb at Arsenal. I even said that Reyes was better than him, remember Reyes? Arsenal’s 17 million wonder kid, well where is he now?

    Just watching that clip brings a smile to my face, he’s a United player for god sakes but you have to respect what he has brought to our game, he does things with a ball that we could only dream of, in fact, I can’t even pull those skills off on my Xbox.

    He now has the complete game, the main reason why he is scoring so many goals is because he now realizes it’s not all about the showboating. And yes, there is nothing better than watching him mug up half the opposition. He has become a team player, and that is the reason why he is the best player in the world by a mile. Messi is quality, I know you love him and want to marry him, but Ronaldo is consistent, where as Messi can drift in and out of games.

  • Matt Quinn

    Dont get me wrong, he is brilliant. Im just saying that i havent been on the edge of my seat watching him for a while. Just think he finds it all too easy.
    About Messi… yes, i do love him and would be tempted to turn gay for him, but he is a once in a generation player. If people watched Messi each week like they do Ronaldo, i dont think there would be a debate as to who is the better player. Messi is 3 years younger and had fitness problems. He never drifts into games, he is entirely consistent. He is Barcelonas focal point. Fabregas said he left Barca youth as he was getting tired chasing Messi around trying to kick him. Henry said he cant wait to tell his grandkids that he once had the honour of playing with Messi. Henry also said sometimes he cant concentrate on some games as he is mesmerised by Messi. If you watch any selection of Youtube clips on Messi, you will see he has scored any number of wonder goals. No defender can get anywhere near him. Ive never seen anyone mark him out of a game, whereas it seems slightly easier to do that with Ronaldo.
    Like i say, he is brilliant, but once Messi has a free run from injuries, the debate wont be Messi or Ronaldo. It will be Messi or Pele.

  • Darren

    thats the difference, Ronaldo is slightly more experienced. Like I said, his game is more complete, have you ever seen Messi score a header? Ronaldo is not only brilliant on the floor, but brilliant in the air.

    I’m an Arsenal fan sticking up for a Man United player, so he must be good. He is already being compared to United’s greatest ever player, George Best, he seems to have blown everything Giggs has ever achieved away already.

    I would love to see them playing in the same team, imagine that. Simply awesome.

    I would still say that Anders Limpar on his day is better!

  • Matt Quinn

    Messi will never be a prolific header of the ball. Hes 5ft 7. Maradona never scored many with his head either. Messi is the better player to watch out of the two. Ronaldo doesnt beat players like Messi does. He just glides past players. I dont think Ronaldos game is more complete. Messi has the superior football brain, Ronaldo does not seem to have that side of his game. Messi plays defence splitting passes, something hes probably learnt off Riquelme.
    Just watch this video.

  • Darren

    it looks like the ball is glued to his feet, plus it also looks like it’s speeded up. Pretty amazing, be great to see that every week.

    Tough one to call I guess

    Mess or Ronaldo or Limpar?

  • Johnny Centreback

    Strong post Dexy. I’ve added you to our new project at:

  • Dan Church

    How about ex United/Rangers/Everton winger, Kanchelskis……ever tried standing on a ball saluting without breaking an ankle ??

  • Matt Quinn

    A good video comparing the two….

    It also has some phunky beats and wicked mashups in the background. Watch it. Wicked.

  • Kriss

    I’m wondering when this undue praise for Ronaldo is going to end, to be honest. He’s not good enough for La Liga.

    So he’s scored a lot of gols this season, good for him. So did Alan Shearer on a regular basis, but I don’t remember him being lauded for being ‘as good as George Best’ or, as the most ridiculous comparison I’ve seen all week said – ‘The new Maradona’

    Ronaldo’s a good player. Nothing more, nothing less. But definitely nothing special. And definitely not as good as Messi.

    And he’ll never be as good as Maradona like people are desperate to believe. Next time I read that there’s a decent chance I’ll die laughing. Diego was one in a million. Ronaldo is a cocky twat with girly hair who falls over a lot.

    And Maradona didn’t have to top up his goal-scoring tally with penalties. Lots and lots of penalties.

    Give me a call when Ronaldo scores 40 in a season from open play… then we’ll talk.

  • Darren

    As Andy Melman would say, ‘is he havin’ a laff’?

    Come on Kriss mate, the guy is class, Matt seems to love Messi too, you should start your own Messi club or Ronaldo hate club.

    No one is saying he’s the best player of all time, we are simply saying he is the best player around at the moment, and he is, simple as.

    I’m a Gooner and I would love a Ronaldo in my side, thats the difference between the two sides for me, Pleb isn’t fit to lick his boots.

    Speaking of Arsenal, what a comeback!!

  • Matt Quinn

    I agree Ronaldo is class, but all i would say is that if Messi played in the premier league there wouldnt be a debate as to whether Ronaldo is the best player in the world. The two are incomparable. Messi is a once in a lifetime player. Ronaldo doesnt quite have that class to be spoken of in those terms. He is the 2nd best in the world at the moment tho. No question.

  • Darren

    Matt, this obsession with Messi has to stop. You don’t even get to see him every week, so how you know if he does what Ronaldo does?

    Ronaldo murdered your precious Villa yesterday, in fact he is murdering every team he plays against at the moment.

    If Arsenal don’t win the league, which is looking likely, I hope he murders Chelsea, they are a disgrace to the game of football.

  • Matt Quinn

    Is it too late to say i told you so???

  • Matt Quinn

    Told you so.

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