Good Riddance For CR7!

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Captain, Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on November 06, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Captain, Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on November 06, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Portugal international striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United have parted ways “amicably” after a couple of signs of a toxic relationship between the two parties surfaced. The 37-year-old marksman re-joined United, for his second stint with the club, from Juventus amid fanfare as he looked to wind down his career at the club where he made his name.

At first, it looked like a match made in heaven, as CR7’s return infused a lot of belief not just for the club but the Red Devils’ faithful, who believed there was still a huge role for their former marksman to play in their relatively young frontline. Almost everyone was impressed by Ronaldo’s first season back, even though he had to go through different coaches in a short space of time. He scored goals and played a significant role in not only scoring but guiding the team towards restoring the club’s pride. Talk about a reunion written in the stars! A few things no one can faulter CR7 on are his commitment, professionalism, winning mentality and the desire to be the best in everything he does. Such a special player! No amount of hatred from opposition supporters will take that away from Ronaldo. You can dislike or not have him as your cup of tea, but you have to respect him for what he has achieved over the years. He’s done a lot not just for Man United but football and sport in general. 

Age has obviously become a factor over the last few seasons, but he continued to defy it. However, as good as Ronaldo is, he stands no chance against Father Time. To see the way the two parties decided to part ways is both disappointing and embarrassing! If there was no place for Ronaldo anymore at the Old Trafford-based club, from the head coach Erik ten Hag’s perspective, that should be respected because it is every coach’s prerogative to select the team he wants and believes in. No club should force a player down any coach’s throat because the buck stops with the head coach, when all is said and done. It is therefore only fair to allow the coaches to make their own decisions without any interference because coaches live and die by their decisions. If the coach calls Ronaldo into his office and explains his plans for the season, “Look man, you’re not in my plans for this season. The way I want us to play is different to what you can give me because I need more pressing from my strikers and you’re obviously not young anymore to do that for 90 minutes. I plan to use you sparingly this season, so you will be making cameo appearances from time to time. So don’t expect 90 minutes or to play in every game because it is impossible with the way I want my team set out.” It would then be upon the player to decide whether he wants to stay and continue to prove the coach wrong or go somewhere else to get regular game-time. That would be fair to both the coach and the player, benefitting the team eventually. 

A similar scenario played itself out recently, where Mamelodi Sundowns coaches Manqoba Mngqithi, Rhulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela decided against retaining the services of arguably the club’s most successful captain, Hlompho Kekana. Just like it was the case with Gonzalez, the issue was never about the coaches’ decision but how the situation was handled. Sundowns handled Kekana’s transition with absolute professionalism where the coaches addressed him about the new direction they were taking and even the club management got involved, at some stage, to ensure that everyone was on the same page. This was all done way before it became public knowledge that Hlompho wouldn’t be forming part of the team’s future, at least on the field of play. Now that’s how these things should be handled, first things first and showing the deserved respect to the special player you have, while allowing the technical team to take their decision – and supporting them fully – and making him see the bigger picture and reality. 

As disappointed as Kekana was, he appreciated the technical team’s honesty and respect, which is why he understood and accepted their decision. The supporters had no choice but to accept the technical team’s decision and support them, even though losing Keke was a bitter pill to swallow for everyone, including his teammates. Surely the same can’t be too much to ask when it comes to CR7! Coach Ten Hag was recently quoted as saying they tried to get CR7 a new club before the start of the season but nothing came of it, as there were no offers on the table. You’ve got to be kidding me! If there were no offers, why was mutual agreement on the termination of his contract not on the table? Was it because he had not said anything in public about the situation he was faced with? Was the club waiting for the situation to blow out of control before they could act, as it proved to be the case? Is that the best way of handling the situation? So, if it wasn’t for the heart-to-heart interview with Piers Morgan, CR7 would still be a Man United player today even though the coach had clearly deemed him surplus to requirements? 

Is it beyond any realms of possibility that CR7 decided to do the tell-it-all interview so that he could expedite his move away, while setting the record straight about what he has had to deal with behind the scenes since his return? Morgan has made it clear that the interview was at Ronaldo’s request, which goes to show that the Portugal international had had enough and wanted the world, especially the team’s supporters, to know exactly what was going on. Interestingly, some of the statements made in that interview were nothing new if you cast your mind back to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jose Mourinho’s past interviews. One can’t help but feel it is good riddance for CR7, after all!     

You see, Ronaldo is no ordinary footballer and can never be treated as such. You can’t expect him to do now what he used to do 10 years ago, it is just impossible! There are proper ways to handle situations and, as much as no player is bigger than a club, not every player is the same. Respect the individual and make sure you part on a good and cordial note. Players come and go, just like coaches, but the relationships that are formed sometimes go way beyond what we see on the field. No one could have predicted this kind of a parting of ways between Man U and Ronaldo, but it has happened. There are lessons for everyone from the situation because it could have been handled much better, with more professionalism and respect for all parties concerned. Yes, two wrongs don’t make a right and therefore it was unfortunate for CR7 to go about the way he did, but equally wrong was the way the club decided to handle the situation. When there is respect, there’s bound to be professionalism and love. With those three, very little can go wrong for anyone. 

On a separate note, with the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup underway, we have launched the Big Match Predictor on our official website, where you can predict the results and stand a chance to win prizes to the value of R12 000! To sign up, please CLICK HERE.

If you remember, we also invited our readers to take part in the City Press ABSA Money Makeover competition a while back and it brings me a lot of pleasure to announce that a Soccer Laduma reader, Mpho Malahlela, who turned around his township business from a money pit to a money maker, is this year’s City Press ABSA Money Makeover winner. Zinzy Mdluli, who found the courage to change the relationships that were draining her finances, is the runner-up. Congratulations, guys!



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