Whilst not ranting and raving with my disgust in certain players when we’re not doing well, I will have a shout if one of our lads is repeatedly screwing up. The likes of Mikael Silvestre, Darren Fletcher, Kieran Richardson and John O’Shea have probably had me grumbling more than anyone else over the past 10 years or so, but I’m sure they can handle it!
There are lads who sit not far away from me at Old Trafford who bitch and complain every match. It’s “Fucking Rooney, get it on target!”, ‘that was shit Giggs!” and “put your fucking foot in Carrick!” every match, and it grates on me.
I can’t tolerate this idea that a player who has contributed positively on so many important occasions deserves the abusing some fans give our players. They’re human, they will have an off day, so give them a break. I heard there were boos at the end of the Villarreal match a couple of weeks back and that leaves me gutted. Who are these people coming to Old Trafford?
However, on Saturday, it struck me at half time that I had become one of them, without me even realising, and Cristiano Ronaldo was the target of my abuse.
Whilst voicing my unhappiness with Ronaldo’s conduct over the summer, I was never one of these big Ronaldo bashers. I understood why he was tempted to leave and had known since day one Real Madrid had been his dream club. It was hardly a shocking revelation when he said he wanted to play for them. I tried to be as understanding as I possibly could.
When the saga was finally resolved, with Ronaldo deciding to stay at the club, it didn’t have a great effect on me. I wasn’t jumping for joy, but equally, I wasn’t fuming either. I could recognise that he was a great talent and whilst I’d never give him the support I had last season again, I was pleased enough to have retained the services of the best player in the World, for a year at least anyway.
Ronaldo was saved from any humiliation thanks to his injury, which kept him out of the opening few games. Following a home draw to Newcastle, an away defeat to Liverpool, as well as a poor display against Zenit, our fans were eager to have him back. He was welcomed on to the pitch with a standing ovation, forgiven, it seemed. The idea of booing a player who we all hoped would kickstart our season just didn’t seem to register anymore.
Against Bolton, ‘Viva Ronaldo’ was sung before the match as he went to collect some PFA award or another, and after he scored his penalty. That was it. A stark contrast to last season, when his songs were sung every few minutes. I was pleased. I didn’t want to see Ronaldo get booed, it’s so low rent to do that to your own players, but I didn’t want him to be able to walk back in to our open arms, us pretending like nothing had happened. It appears as though the Old Trafford crowd are in agreement, for the time being at least.
However, my behaviour on Saturday was different to ever before, and I wonder if I’m alone in this. I wonder if I’m being a bit over-sensitive and should just get a grip. But when Ronaldo scored, I stayed in my seat. It didn’t move me at all. Maybe it was because I knew it wasn’t a penalty at all and we were going to receive a slating for it, or maybe it was because of the scorer. After throwing himself to the ground too cheaply all day, finally he’d got a decision, and the glory that comes with it. I’m not suggesting Ronaldo dived to win the penalty, because I don’t think he did, but had any other player been on the receiving end of that tackle, I’d have been a lot happier.
Last season, I would have forgiven Ronaldo a whole host of sins. When he fired yet another freekick straight in to the wall, as Owen Hargreaves and Ryan Giggs looked on impatiently, I got over it. When he went to ground too easily then threw a tantrum after not being awarded a freekick, I didn’t fuss. Yes, he was imperfect, but he was so important to us, carving out a place for himself in our history books.
I’m not so willing to forgive any more.
There will have been some fans who went to Old Trafford on Saturday knowing full well they did not have any time for Ronaldo, yet for me, it took me by surprise. I didn’t realise the feelings seeing him play for us again would evoke.
It was infuriating to see Ronaldo take on a few players then fall over under minimal contact. As the referee waved play on, and the rest of our team scurried back in to position after supporting the attack, Ronaldo would stay sat on the pitch. The fact that he’d just lost the ball and now the rest of his team had to make up for that seemingly mattered little to him.
So I slated him, from start to finish. “Lazy little prick, chase back!”, “diving bastard, get up!”, “fucking pass the ball you selfish dick head!” I’d never bought in to all that before, but it felt good laying in to Ronaldo. The guy scored one and assisted the other, yet here I was, ripping layers off him every time he held on to the ball for too long and shot when he should have passed.
There is no real point to this, other than for me to confess and get things off my chest. I don’t want to be one of those pricks who berates our best players and I’m hoping it’s just a ‘phase’ I’m going through. The arrogance and laziness were things I could abide by last season, but now it’s as if a switch has been flicked, and I expect more from him.
Ronaldo has changed, the fame and attention has gone to his head. I overlooked it before, but now, I can’t. Whilst he’s had other people read through his mail for the past few years, he now even resents doing the signings for other people, paid by him, to send out. He drove away at the end of training last week, despite a group of terminally ill visitors at Carrington, and refused to return. Who the fuck does this guy think he is?
It really isn’t a nice position to be in, feeling such a strong dislike for one of your own players. I remember something similar to this with Rio Ferdinand a few years back, but that is long forgotten. If Ronaldo was to stay for a few more seasons, maybe there’d be times for the wounds to be completely healed too, although if we’re realistic, we will probably cash in big time next summer, and I will be glad.
I am grateful for last season and if he scores and assists in every game from now, I’m hardly going to let that go unappreciated. Still, I don’t want to end up like those tossers at the ground and I am going to make an effort not to be so hard on him. But one things for sure, this season will be a lot less enjoyable if I can no longer ignore his imperfections and get worked up every time Ronaldo behaves in a way I don’t like!
Am I alone on this?
The RoM 2017-18 Season Preview is available for just £5. It includes an EXCLUSIVE interview with Paul Scholes, a Q&A with the country's top journalists about our transfer targets, articles by brilliant United writers, and so much more. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.