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Where Does Ronaldo Rank Among United's Greats?

Where Does Ronaldo Rank Among United's Greats?

George Best 1968. Cristiano Ronaldo 2008. Between the two dates, nothing. No United player won France Football's Ballon d'Or, even in the Treble year our players were overlooked for Rivaldo who hasn't even performed in the Champions League in 1999 as Barcelona were knocked out in the group stages. Isn't it amazing that forty years had to pass considering that two years before Best, Sir Bobby won it and two years before him Dennis Law got the award?

So does it mean that Cristiano Ronaldo is now automatically one of our greatest ever players, a club legend? No. Only time will tell. One may argue that two exceptional seasons isn't enough - well, George Best wasn't the model of consistency and prolonged achievement yet he's rightly lauded as one of the best ever players in the history of the game.

The likes of Bobby Charlton, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs will always be ahead of Ronaldo for me because of their sheer longevity and sustained excellence. Sir Bobby is, for me, untouchable, he's United's best ever player in my opinion. The two modern-day heroes quoted are not fully appreciated yet but they're near the same category.

Ronaldo, however, has much more common with Best than with any of them. Let's face it: it's unlikely that he'll spend more than two more seasons at United - most probably he'll leave in the summer of 2009. He's not one who is always involved, making the team tick like Keane and Charlton, or Cantona. But in terms of individual brilliance, sheer ability he's the best United player since Best and it's no surprise that he got the award for the first time since George himself.

He won't be remembered as the greatest ever at United, he won't be the one remembered most fondly by the fans - but he'll always have a unique piece in our history with his Ballon d'Or win and more importantly, the way he fired us to glory in the Champions League. Much like Best did forty years ago.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Tuesday December 2 2008
Time: 8:29PM


He is most definitely the best diver you have ever had. To even start to compare him to George Best is an insult to reason. He will never be worthy of polishing Bobby Charlton's boots -- this from a City fan.
03/12/2008 01:03:00
In the wake of his magnificent goal – and penalty miss – in the Champions League final in Moscow in the spring, he put on a post-game performance of stunning surliness. No, he couldn't promise to fulfil his contract to United, no more than he was ready to discuss his emotions when he missed the spot-kick that might have denied United the prize that he and his team-mates had pursued with such ferocious effort. "I don't make promises," he said, "not even to my mum." Earlier, when he received the Footballer of the Year award he managed not to make a single mention of his team-mates, his manager, or his club. He is, all in all, a magnificently equipped footballer starved at times of even a modicum of grace. That he is grouped with such as Pele and Cruyff by a man of Ferguson's weight and achievement says much, not least the force of the manager's belief that he has the power to remake football history. In many ways he has, but on the matter of Ronaldo he still has a huge burden in making his case. Meantime, some of us will be content with the prospect of a player of breathtaking talent, and the kind of agreeable nature of all those great performers who have learnt to live comfortably and gracefully with their success. In this respect, Lionel Messi is the man.
03/12/2008 17:10:00
So all glory, then, to Cristiano Ronaldo, widely expected to be crowned Europe's best player and assigned by his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, to the company of Pele and Johan Cruyff? Sorry, no can do in this quarter. The task is made impossible for two reasons. One is that Ronaldo is displaying the gravitas and self-awareness not of great men like Pele and Cruyff, who once beat England at Wembley while hardly crossing the halfway line, but a drastically undertrained pup. The other is that, alongside Ronaldo's too often grisly parody of real star quality, another kind of show is going on, one that reminds you that football when enhanced by individual brilliance at its best leaves every other team game for dead. Lionel Messi is the centrepiece of this show. At the weekend he lit up the sky over Seville where the home team boast one of the most obdurate defences in Europe. Not only did he score two goals in a 3-0 win, he brought enchantment with almost every touch of the ball. He pretty much did that at Old Trafford last season when he delivered a masterclass on possession of the ball, one that with some passable support from his Barcelona team-mates might well have shattered United's march to their second Champions League title. No doubt the overall weight of Ronaldo's contribution to United's massive success last season made this week's award something of a formality, but the point is that right now football has a supreme and beautiful exponent, and it is not the superstar who, whatever you think of his eventual dismissal last Sunday, behaved in a way that made a travesty of Ferguson's ultimate praise. After his brutal tackle on Shaun Wright-Phillips Ronaldo displayed contempt for referee Howard Webb that came out of the top drawer of petulance. He announced that, as far as he was concerned, he could make his own rules and give himself the benefit of the most outrageous levels of doubt. Distaste for Ronaldo's style and conduct can only be deepened by his manager's insistence that he is some kind of football martyr, a victim of forces combining disrespect and envy. The real martyr at the Eastlands stadium was not the superb physical specimen Ronaldo but someone who might double up as a charm on a bracelet, the diminutive Wright-Phillips. If a United player had been so relentlessly targeted Ferguson might well have called for intervention by the United Nations. Messi is small too – and inevitably the object of the most ruthless attention. Remember when he was sickeningly levelled at Stamford Bridge a few seasons ago and Jose Mourinho alleged that he took a dive? Messi didn't dive, he prosecuted his game with courage and wonderful flair. Now, in the explosion of Pep Guardiola's Barça team, who are rivalling Arsenal as football's most idealistic proponents of a beautiful game, Messi moves from one exquisite performance to another. Yes, it is right that Messi has to nail down real achievement – Barcelona have to be involved in the Champions League's shake-up and under the new regime of Diego Maradona he has to shine for Argentina now that he has the chance that was so shockingly denied him by the nation's head coach Jose Pekerman in the World Cup two years ago. The instinct here, though, is that if Messi does get the kind of stage provided for Ronaldo by United and Portugal he will both conquer it and display a hugely superior reaction to his triumphs. This, admittedly, is only a guess. The confirmation of ambitions and yearnings doesn't always have a hugely warming effect on the personalities of those who make them come good. At the moment, Ronaldo is arguably the most wretched example of this process. His body language remains, mostly, sour. Only this season has he got round to celebrating any success achieved by his team-mates. He is happy to dish out punishment but writhes and moans when he is on the receiving end.
03/12/2008 17:10:00
Read the whole thing. Manure fans. And then start talking if Ronaldo's truly great *smirk* link-
03/12/2008 17:11:00
congratulations 2 cristiano ronaldo on winning the european player of the year. i thnk he deserves it because of the goals he scored 4 united and helping them winning the premiership and the champions league
03/12/2008 19:03:00
F**k it,he might be surly,he might know how good he is,he mightn't be popular,he might dive sometimes(so those Rooney,Gerrard and Drogba)but on the basis of last seasons performances he deserved the award,he was fantastic last season and he's one hell of a player,and this is from a Spurs fan and i really hope he's not playing on Saturday!
10/12/2008 01:15:00
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