Friday, June 12, 2009

Ramon spills the beans on Ronaldo

Ramon spills the beans on Ronaldo.
So Manchester United and Real Madrid hatched the Ronaldo snatch a year ago, if ex-President Ramon Calderon is to be believed.

"Last season, Manchester United decided not to do it because they thought it was too early," Calderon told BBC Radio. "Everyone involved in the operation agreed to do it this season. That is what I can say." Real boss Juande Ramos corroborated this amazing claim: "We already knew that Real Madrid had a pre-contract agreement with Cristiano Ronaldo and that it was only a matter of time," he confirmed.

So the transfer was done and dusted a year ago and it was only its timing which had to be mutually decided, it appears. There was no mention of the £80 million fee, which presumably was pencilled in by the two clubs after Euro 2008.

The 57-year old may just be bitter at having being forced out of the club in January after being caught ballot-rigging, and at the fans' cries of 'Where is Ronaldo?' at the press conference to announce Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's arrival must still be ringing in his ears.
Calderon, like every other presidential candidate at Real, had promised to bring the Portuguese star to the Bernabeu, so when the Portuguese remained a Red Devil his credibility plummeted as a consequence. Since Ronaldo clearly wanted to play for Real and the club had the cash to flash, how hard could it have been to tempt the Glazers to part with their temperamental asset?

Calderon failed in his mission, so now Ronaldo has been captured under Florentino Perez's tenure, the deposed monarch is quick to claim the credit himself. 'It was me all along...' his story goes.

So if it really was a done deal a year ago, what does that say about United's integrity? Never mind the fact the English champions have let the World Player of the Year and winner of the Ballon d'Or slip away; they have been telling pork pies to us for a whole season.

What price a footballer's word or that of his manager? Sir Alex Ferguson reported Real to FIFA and issued regular and strident denials of any manoeuvring to sell his starlet, while the player himself consistently stated he was happy at Old Trafford, most recently after the 2009 Champions League final. Both were lying through their teeth. Ronaldo has been exiled from British shores, but will Sir Alex be stripped of his knighthood for such egregious chicanery?

And what is United's excuse for selling their marquee player to a rival anyway? It is not financial, they holler, despite posting a budget deficit of £699m earlier this month. How could it be, as long as they are successful and turning over £256m a year, up 22% on last season. United spent 47% of their turnover on wages in 2007-'08, which is a good deal less than some Premier League rivals such as Chelsea (68%), West Ham (76%), Portsmouth (89%) or Stoke (106%).

And if anyone has made running a big club at a huge loss an art form for years it is surely Ronaldo's new Spanish team. The player expressed a desire to leave is the official line, which hardly tells the full story. And by insisting the decision was not financial, the Glazers are implying Fergie was responsible for letting Ronaldo's tantrums get the better of him.
The man-management maestro ultimately failed to settle or keep his best player, and could not prevent his directors biting a big enough bait. But you would not have known it from his statements to the press. If anyone in football is lauded with an excess of adulation it must be the craggy Scot Sir Alex.

So on the 60th anniversary of the release of George Orwell's 1984, Fergie's soundbite, "I would not sell them a virus" enters the dictionary as a priceless example of footballing doublespeak.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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