It's about time I added my 2 cents to this whole Cristiano Ronaldo departure debate. Since news of Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid broke on Thursday every newspaper, website and blogger has been speculating about who Fergie would bring in to replace the Luis Vuitton bag carrying Portuguese winger.
My answer is simple, Manchester United can't replace Cristiano Ronaldo, and Fergie knows it! The Ronaldo of the past two, three season was something special. The Portuguese winger had it all in his locker, breathtaking speed, ability to score with either foot from all distances and angles, a free-kick expert, strong in the air, and a bag of tricks that would put most Brazilian Futsal players to shame. A player with his talents had not been seen at Old Trafford since the day's of George Best, in fact one of Manchester United's biggest legends Sir Bobby Charlton believed that Ronaldo had everything Best had, only with greater speed and more strength. Any United player will be hard pressed to find a better compliment than that!
Players of such high caliber aren't replaced overnight. Ask any Liverpool fan if they've been able to find a player to fill the void left by Kenny Dalglish all those years ago, or if they've ever managed to bring in a winger that could live up to the standards set by John Barnes, and the answer will be no. The same goes for Arsenal. Put your hands up if you think they've been able to replace the legendary Patrick Viera or Thierry Henry. Nope didn't think so. Hell United themselves are still trying to find a replacement for Roy Keane after spending over 40 Million Pounds on central midfielders.
Ronado's faults were there for all to see, but his talent was what convinced Ferguson to put up with his crap. Fergie knew that replacing Ronaldo wouldn't be easy, after all there's a short supply of 20+ goals a season attacking midfielder's in World football at the moment. Why else would a manager who is so renowned for kicking out players who step over the line beg Ronaldo to stay at Manchester United? Who can forget how quickly the likes of Jaap Stam, David Beckham and Ruud Van Nistelrooy were sent packing after stepping over the line? Well with Ronaldo it was different.
Fergie was desperate to hold onto his Portuguese winger despite the player openly flirting with Real Madrid for the better part of two seasons. Famously stating that he felt like a ‘slave’ at Manchester United, while he also professed his man-love to Madrid with the clichéd "It has always been my dream to play for Real Madrid" quotes in the summer of 2008.
Despite all this Fergie did everything in his power to hold onto Ronaldo and eventually convinced the winger to stay on for another season even after the player made it clear that his heart was in Madrid.
Have you ever seen Ferguson do this for any other player? Ask yourself why. The answer is simple; Ferguson knew that replacing Ronaldo would be as difficult as replacing Keane, which could take years, regardless of how much money they made out of the deal.
So my advice to Manchester United fans is simple, don't expect any player to come in next year and fill the massive gap left by Ronaldo, it could be a very long time before there's another World and European footballer of the year plying his trade at Old Trafford.
Till next time...