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Scholes: Ronnie Better Than Cantona, Keane, Beckham, Giggs…

Cristiano RonaldoPaul Scholes is a modest man, a quiet man, who is not at all concerned with the celebrity that comes with being a Manchester United player. He practically had to be dragged from the changing room to give an interview after scoring against Liverpool in his 500th appearance for the club. He modestly played down the occasion, thanking his team mates, and lauding the three points over our rivals rather than give recognition to the special day.

I have often wondered what this timid man, who shies away from the limelight, makes of players like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, who court media publicity, who are fashion and style conscious, and strut themselves on the pitch in such a cocky manner. Players who certainly have reached an incredibly high level in the game, but who are very aware of their public image and have a life off the field firmly placed in the spotlight.

Today, Paul Scholes have given his opinion of the Portuguese superstar, hailing him as the best player he has ever played with.

“I have been lucky to have played with a lot of great players,” said Scholes. “Cristiano has to be at the top now, after what he has done this season. Scoring the amount of goals from his position has been nothing short of amazing. It is not just that though, it is the way he makes chances and the threat he poses to other teams.”

Is Cristiano Ronaldo the best player the club has seen in the past 15 years?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. jsos says:

    Is Ronnie the best? Well I think a Scholes seal of approval is probably the truest testament to the skill of any player. If the Ginger Prince says yes, who am I to disagree? :)

  2. Sam says:

    Wow. That’s unexpected.

  3. nittin says:

    greatest player ever … may be, but not the most influential!

  4. Ahmed Bilal says:

    to be fair – he said at the top, not above everyone else.

  5. Scott the Red says:

    Ahmed – when a team is at the top of the league, does that not place them above all the other teams?

    If Scholes had used words like “one of the…”, “amongst there” etc. then that would imply Ronnie wasn’t above everyone else, but as it is, to say he’s at the top, certainly seems to state that Ronnie is better than all the rest.

  6. Mr Blackett says:

    Sorry Scott, Ahmed’s right. You can be at the top of the Eiffel Tower but there’s a good few people up there with you. If he meant to say Ronaldo is the greatest player he’s ever played with, I’m sure he’d say exactly that. I don’t think Scholes would be so disrespectful to the other great players, even to some of the lesser ones, that he would suggest Ronaldo is better than all of them.

    As for whether Ronaldo is the best, yeah, I think he could be.

  7. jsos says:

    Blackett.. your analogy is irrelevant to the quote.

    “Cristiano has to be at the top now, after what he has done this season.”

    he is AT THE TOP. Not “among the top” he is at the top of the list.. like Scott said – just as we are at the top of the table. No one is sitting up there with us, thats what being the top means. When you make a list, there is one at the top. We’re not talking about holidays here, mate. We’re talking about Scholesy saying our Ronnie is #1 :D

  8. Sam says:

    Let’s leave it as his comment was ambiguous- and even if it marginally means one thing rather than the other in terms of proper English, how do we know Scholesy meant it that way?

    Knowing Scholes as Scott has described him in the article, I reckon he meant one of the top, as he’s not one to make a controversial statement, or put others down (especially since he’s still playing with Giggs). Still, he may have meant Ronny is the top, which would be an incredible, incredible things to say from a man such as he.

  9. Mr Blackett says:

    Umm, jsos. If we both climbed a hill, would we both be at the top? Yes, we would.

    You can’t rate players with a league table. It’s possible for two players to be as good as each other. Different players play in different positions doing entirely different jobs but both as valuable to the team as each other.

    Don’t get me wrong, you could be right. I just can’t believe that when Scholes makes a rare comment, he chooses to insult all of the other great players he’s called team mates. Players aren’t known for being particularly articulate and often complain that their comments have been ‘misconstrued’.

    Semantics eh?

  10. jimmy Bob says:

    lets wait and see what happens at the end of the season before we announce ronaldo (who is a great) as a our best player of recent years
    for me the great dane was as vital as eric and keane for us winning things and robson was at times a 1 man team in the darker days of the 80s

    Im just happy to have seen all of them play for untd and just hope ronaldo can prove to be the best of the lot

  11. RedAddict says:

    Scott, I think you’re being unfair on Ronaldo. Does he really court media publicity and the limelight in the same way Beckham does? I really don’t believe so. I think the media court him and the spotlight firmly follows him around, rather than vice versa. Sure he has his TV ads, which are tied in with his Nike deal, but he’s no Beckham. Beckham actively sought publicity, especially after his marriage. He would appear in Hello magazine, have photoshoots with Victoria, and generally loved being the nation’s darling.

    Ronaldo doesn’t seem like this at all. Fair enough, he’s had a few kiss and tells, but is that his fault. He’s a young guy – he likes women! The only reason we hear about them is because he’s young and popular with girls, therefore the story sells. Nobody wants a kiss and tell with Dirk Kuyt for example unless it’s for Bizarre magazine or something! From what I’ve seen of Ronaldo, he seems to be very family orientated, having moved most of his family over here to live with or near him.

  12. ajdin says:

    i don’t think ronaldo is better than anderson,rooney or beckham

  13. UnitedBlogger says:

    Well to be fair Ronaldo has been the best player for the last 2 years. No one during the last 2 years has been able to sustain his wonderful form – not Messi, not Kaka, not anyone. So is he the best player in the world today – the answer has to be a resounding yes!

    In terms of whether he is the best player at United ever? Well – that’s tricky. For one, it doesn’t matter unless he delivers a few titles and a CL. So what happens this season and next will obviously dictate the answer to that question. Scholes’ comment can be interpreted differently and I don’t think he meant it in the way that “Ronaldo is better than Cantona etc”. Bottomline – win us the CL and the title this year and all arguments against will be put to rest.

  14. UnitedBlogger says:

    edit above ” is he the best player at United ever” to “is he the best player at United in the last 15 years”

    I am not at all qualified to answer the “ever” part. I can’t even think of arguing with people who have seen the greatness of Duncan , Best etc

  15. Scott the Red says:

    RedAddict – when Beckham was aged 22/23, he wasn’t shagging prostitutes, dating glamour models and modelling for jeans/sunglasses/car companies.

    Ronaldo has barely started yet, but is still far further along the media ladder than Becks was at his age.

  16. RedAddict says:

    Fair enough, but I still think people who seek out the spotlight are more like Beckham, who was never done with glossy mag interviews, selling his wedding, and publicly dating one of the most high profile females in the country. I’ve heard of a couple of Ronaldo’s girlfriends but I’ve never seen pictures of them splashed all over papers.

    Young footballers sleep with prostitutes. It just happens. It makes sense for them because a prostitute will not turn round and accuse you of rape. Sad state of affairs, but if a young footballer is looking for no strings fun without any bad consequences, prostitutes are the only way.

    I remember Ronaldo having the car commerical a few years back, but is he that involved in advertising now, outside his Nike commercials? Still, making money from advertising isn’t exactly seeking the spotlight either. He’s just very marketable so companies will pay massive money for him to model their stuff. I think Beckham is a complete different kettle of fish. Maybe I’m just hopeful, because celebrity would be the end of Ronaldo.

  17. virgopq says:

    Becks is talented but ain’t skillfull to be touchin distant of Ronaldo. I wud put Gissy, Best & Cantona to b in the same league as Ronaldo.

    Talent wise, gosh!, there’s pleantyful of them wz the likes of Scholes, Sharpe, Keano, Robson, Coppell, Joe Jordan, Law, Mickey Thomas & so on.

    So, inorder to be THE best, u’ve got to hv talents like skills to overcome yr opponents, leadership to lead & inspire the team & most importantly, win games when the rest of the teamates are not.

    Imho, what Ronaldo lacks is Leadership. Thus, till he shows the missing leadership quality in him, he’ll defintely be THE Best !. . . . I’ve a strong gut feeling it’ll b sooner rather than later !.

    And of course, equally important is tt he’s a Red Devil, not a Scouser, Gunner or whatever team in the world !.

  18. Tom F says:

    Scott- In my opinion Ronaldo today, is the best ever United player. We’re surrounded by hype, build up and experiences which involve Ronaldo being the hero week in week out. Best, Cantona, Beckham, All those number 7′s have ben surrounded in it.

    My hero is Scholes. Though, I cannot judge whether Ginge means ”he is up there” or ”he is the best” simply because the way he is quoted doesn’t refer to the original question posed.

    Scott-FCUOM. your thoughts?

  19. Scott the Red says:

    I think Ronaldo is special. The most special player we’ve had since Cantona. He has something about him that is magical.

    I can’t fall for him though because he won’t be with us forever. We’re a stepping stone for him and whilst I can sing his praises, can be left speechless by his goals and skills, he doesn’t move me entirely. He doesn’t move me like Cantona did, Giggs did, Keane did. Maybe that will change, I don’t know, but right now, I’m not completely sold on him.

    Can I see Rooney staying with us forever? Yes. Can I see Ronaldo? No. So I just can’t ever feel for him the way I have about players who I thought loved the club almost as much as I do ;) lol.

    But he’s special. No doubt about it. Everything he touches turns to gold at the moment and long may that continue!

  20. Neil says:

    Scott – I don’t think you can compare Ronaldo’s urge to be in the spotlight to Beckham. You don’t see Ronaldo hanging out with Tom Cruise and Will Smith do you? I’d say there’s a big difference in endorsing a jeans and appearing in lavish spreads in Vanity Fair and Vogue.

    As far as the argument that Beckham at 23 didn’t indulge in the celebrity life – Ronaldo was introduced to the first team at 18, and with Fergie giving him the no.7 and paying 12 million for him, everyone’s attention was always going to be focussed on him from the start.

  21. Scott the Red says:

    Neil – When Beckham was 21 he scored “that” goal against Wimbledon. He was a part of the United “kids” who would never win anything that went on to win the Double when he was 21. When he was 22 he started going out with Posh Spice. You don’t think he had the media spotlight on him?

    Ronaldo is 23. What had he done by the time he was 21? Won the FA Cup?

    Beckham was in his late 20s when he started showing an interest in his life off the pitch. By the time Ronaldo was 22, he’d had a rape case (which he wasn’t convicted of), stories of him shagging several prostitutes in the press, dated a glamour model (Gemma Atkinson), and modelled for several companies.

    Ronaldo has got years on Beckham and I can’t see him toning it down, particularly if he scoops the prizes for football we imagine he will. Can you imagine Ronaldo as World and European Player of the Year? It won’t be pretty in a few years.

  22. corea says:

    Undoubtedly he has to win with the club the champions league and to prove that he is strong in the most important games against the strong opossition.
    I agree with Comment by Scott the Red on April 1, 2008 3:44.
    Scholes is my favorite player, Rooney will be the next one fo me after prince retires.
    But you just cannot take away from Cristiano what he has done this season.
    Lets wait a couple of months. Only time will tell.
    Of course the commitment to the club is also very impotrant thing.

  23. Tom F says:

    I agree with the sad reality that Ronaldo won’t be here at United forever. I do think that Anderson, Nani etc are here to help build a team around Ronaldo. Trying to wrap him in the history of our club, make him proud to wear the captains armband, make him not want to leave.

    I think being foreign has a big thing to do with it, Rooney has said he don’t want to play anywhere else and if Manchester United was in sunny spain I’m sure Ronaldo will be the same.

    I find it hard to imagine Ronaldo playing against Manchester United, but before he goes I’m sure we’ll have to deal with the departure of Sir Alex as well as Giggs, Scholes and Neville… that is another difficult reality and like when Cantona left we will move on, there’ll be more quality players coming along for us to argue over and sing praises.

    Anderson vs Villa. Amazing by the way!!!

  24. Salford Red. says:

    On a completely unrelated topic, sorry Scott, i’ve heard rummors that the gimps plan to charge us up front for eight cup games next season when we renew our season tickets. This effectively means that an extra payment up front of at least £250 on season tickets. With me personally this will mean an immediate outlay of £1050. With credit cards maxed out paying for this years ticket prices, and not taking into account the given price increases next term, i’m afraid that’s me out of the game. Like i say sorry to change the subject but it is on a note of some panic that i ask fellow posters have they heard anything re’ this development.

  25. Bruce says:

    i’ll echo those who said “at the top” doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better than Cantona, et. al.

    so it’s – at the top *with*…

    and i believe Ronaldo *can* eventually be better than Cantona, certainly Beckham.

    the media spotlight comparison with Beckham at their particular ages is unfair because the intensity has *also* since increased so Ronaldo has a lot more to deal with now.

  26. Paddy says:

    “At the very least, he is the most formidable and controversial player of our time.”

    Sue Mott, The Daily Telegraph.

    “It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player.”

    Alex Ferguson

    Nobody ever said that about Christiano Ronaldo.

  27. Bruce says:

    that’s because no one’s ever heard of CHRISTiano Ronaldo !!

    no one will ever claim that Ronaldo is more inspirational than Keane, but i’d say Keano would be the first to admit that Ronaldo’s PLAYING SKILLS are far and away better than his.

  28. Paddy says:

    Allright, Cristiano, Schmistiano, whatever!

    Ronaldo could run with a ball at his feet, he had an eye for the pass, he could do pony tricks and he was accurate in shots on net, either from play or from a dead ball. But that isn’t the full range of PLAYING SKILLS, if you must shout, thats a small set of skills that tend to catch the eye of those who don’t really understand all that makes a winning team like Manchester United.

    Over the long run, tackling, ball winning, breaking up attacks, and that most important of intangibles, making your team a winner are all parts of being a great player. Ronaldo was a great performer, Roy Keane was a great player. Have Ronaldo on the team sheet at the Stadia della Alpa in 1999 instead of Roy Keane and Man U have one less Champions League title.

    Even Ronaldo will tell you that.


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