Cristiano Ronaldo declared his sadness to the whole world recently and thisstatement generated plenty of laughs and jokes around the world. Yet this proclamation has been due for a long time now and it’s surprising it didn’t come earlier. Real Madrid have plenty of unhappy superstars who may be living the dream by normal standards but have been struggling in the politically charged atmosphere at Real Madrid.
TheHardTackle delves into the murkier aspects of a glamorous life and tries to find out the reasons for Cristiano Ronaldo’s sadness.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi
To talk of one is to talk of other. One cannot say the name of one without bringing the other into picture. Publicly, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi may deny that they have no rivalry between them and they play only for their teams. In reality it is bunch of nonsense that nobody buys. Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi don’t shake hands on field, score goals at will to match other blow for blow and want to play every single match.
Make no mistake, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi want to be remembered as the greatest ever and second place is just not good enough. Lionel Messi is of course Barcelona’s darling and is mollycoddled with no boundaries. Whether it is making Fabregas drop deeper, selling Ibra or shunting out David Villa to the left, Barcelona is built around Messi. Every player and coach is supposed to bow to his supposed supremacy and proclamations of how he is the best in the world are repeated every week.
In this context we will try to examine the cause of unhappiness of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Jose Mourinho and Jorge Mendes
Jorge Mendes, the “super agent”, has several of his clients at Real Madrid – Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carvalho, Mourinho and Coentrao. Coincidently, all of them are Portuguese. Every coach likes a particular nationality/type of players to play in their teams. Rafa Benitez filled the team with Spaniards, Wenger likes French and African players, Mancini likes troublemakers and so on. In that respect Mourinho is no different and he too tries to work with players he most identifies with.
However, last season Coentrao arrived for a gigantic sum of €30 million. When he arrived Mourinho said that he was not purchasing such an expensive player to play just in Marcelo’s position. However, his joker in the pack idea failed miserably and Coentrao became exactly that: just an expensive left back.
Apart from this there have been regular reports of friction between the Spanish and Portuguese contingents amid accusations of Mourinho favoring his countrymen. A typical case was a half fit Carvalho chosen over Varane and Albiol and who was then booed and whistled by Bernabeu faithful. We will return to this issue later to examine it in more depth.
Marcelo vs Fabio Coentrao
This is the most interesting turnaround of all. Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo were the best of friends on and off the pitch. This showed in the performances they dished out week after week and had built up a telepathic understanding with each other. However, the arrival of Coentrao soured this friendship. Whenever, there has been an important match against a big team, Coentrao has been the preferred choice ahead of Marcelo.
More gallingly, last season Coentrao started 7 Champions League games and Marcelo started just 5 out of 10 games. In fact in the semi finals only after Coentrao’s blunder had allowed Bayern a lifeline did Marcelo start the second leg.
Undeniably while Marcelo is not the pillar of defensive solidity, Coentrao fares only slightly better and offers a much lesser threat going forward which renders Ronaldo much lesser of a threat.
There is a distinct feeling in the capital side of being ripped off. In fact, in general, the only justification anyone can think of for paying so much is that Mourinho and Mendes orchestrated this move. It does not help that Coentrao has proved to at best an above average left back and a below average wing back.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Iker Casillas
Another war going on consists of Casillas on one side with Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo on the other. Mourinho has reportedly several times tried to bring another keeper or give the armband to someone else. Casillas no doubt sees this as an attempt by Mourinho to reduce Casillas’s influence in the dressing room.
Add to this the fact that the “Only One” is seen to be favoring the Portuguese over meritocracy seems to riling many and dividing the Real Madrid. Marcelo’s comments of saying that Casillas deserved to win Balon d’or ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo also didn’t go down very well with Cristiano Ronaldo.
This is undoubtedly the result of deteriorating relationship between Ronaldo and Marcelo where Marcelo chose not to celebrate Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals against Granada with him.
Casillas has been at Real Madrid and his ideas of Madridismo conflict directly with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mourinho, Mendes, Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Coentrao
In general if Mourinho’s decisions are viewed objectively most of them pass the scrutiny with flying colours. Marcelo has undoubtedly become a better player under him. So have Benzema and Ozil. Ramos too has flourished as center back. Pepe has been a monster at the heart of defense in the nicest possible terms. The fact that Real Madrid has never won against Barcelona is testament to the importance of Portuguese in the line-up.
Every coach has his trusted lieutenants and Carvalho was one of Mourinho’s. Mourinho did start a half fit Carvalho but to his credit hauled him off at half time and has made him surplus to requirements this time around. The only stumbling block is Coentrao. It is not Coentrao’s fault that crazy money was paid for him and the tactical variations did not suit him either. It is time that the above 5 sat down and tried to come to an agreement of sorts.
In fact the only problem with Coentrao is his price tag. While he is not the world beater in the mould of other players in Real Madrid, he is not a bad player either.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi
Life comes a full circle and so does this story. There is no denying that Balon D’or and FIFA player of the year are as much as popularity contests as much as a reflection of merit. While last to last year Messi was ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, the penultimate season no doubt belonged to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored all important goals, dragged Portugal to the semis in Euro Cup and won a more important trophy than Messi. He even managed to overshadow Messi in the last 5 clasicos scoring each time.
In short, Cristiano Ronaldo did everything the world’s best player should do.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo does not seem to have the universal support of Madridistas. Some favour awarding Casillas the award ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. While Casillas was undoubtedly great in Euros, even Iniesta was better than him in that competition. To award Casillas ahead of Cristaino Ronaldo seems ridiculous or even malicious.
Hating Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is one person everyone loves to hate. As a Madridista, he has a long way to go before can be considered in the same league as “San” Iker. Having said that, Cristiano Ronaldo does deserve the unequivocal support of Madridistas all around world including his teammates not just for what he did last season in all competitions but also in the Euros.
It will be childish to deny that Cristiano Ronaldo was the best last year. Yes, he is cocky, almost arrogant, lives a flashy lifestyle and everything else. However, this award is not for Cristiano Ronaldo, the person. This award is for Cristiano Ronaldo, the player.
Real Madrid has always had a politically charged atmosphere. This is not going to change anytime soon. But for the greater good of the Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo and even the game of football it is time that Los Blancos unite.
Every player wants to win trophies and Cristiano Ronaldo is no different from Fabregas, Aguero or Modric. So why should he be singled out for criticism for his ambition when others are lauded?
It will be a shame if anyone other than Ronaldo wins the best player award this year. Only the Barcelona fundamentalists will argue that Messi had a better year than Cristiano Ronaldo. Supercopa, Copa Del and Club World are always the icing on the cake and not the cake itself.
It is time that Real Madrid lobbies hard for this award as they need their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo more than any other time. Not just for Cristiano Ronaldo but also to ensure that a divided house unites once again.