Cristiano Ronaldo was a revelation for United last season, sticking two fingers up at all the doubters and critics he’d had to deal with over the past few years. ‘No end product’ was the insult he faced the most, and to a certain extent, there was some truth to that. He’d mesmerise the opposition with his stepovers, then get shoved off the ball/dive. He’d exhibit lightning speed to get to the edge of the box, then cross to the first man/shoot miles wide. Ferguson had the patience to keep trying with him, kept putting faith in the lad. Following a disastrous World Cup, from a United point of view, Fergie did all he could to keep Ronaldo, and was successful.
Since then, Cristiano Ronaldo has proven himself to be in the top three players in Europe and the World, but based on what he actually contributed last season, there is little doubt in my mind he should have been the winner. Week in week out Ronaldo played out of his skin for United in the league. Only two players scored more goals than Ronaldo in the league, which is pretty incredible considering he played on the wings all season. He was so close to being the league’s highest scorer, just three short of Drogba’s total of 20. Not even one player assisted more goals than Ronaldo though.
However, it was AC Milan’s Kaka who won a clean sweep of the awards, the Brazilian playing a blinder in the Champions League. However, his league contributions were average at best. Good fortune would see to Ronaldo and Kaka playing in exactly the same number of league games for their clubs last season, making the comparison easier, with both racking up thirty one appearances. Kaka scored eight goals, something which saw him not even scrape in the top twenty five goalscorers in Serie A last season, in comparison to Ronaldo’s seventeen. Kaka had six assists in comparison to Ronaldo’s thirteen. So in total, Ronaldo was behind thirty of our goals last season in the league, compared to Kaka’s fourteen. AC Milan finished 4th, United were Champions.
It was of course their respective performances in the Champions League which swayed the vote. The fact that Kaka played more than double the amount of games in the league than the Champions League appears to be irrelevant. Showing up for fifteen games in the Champions League seems to cancel out not showing up for thirty one games in Serie A. Ten goals in fifteen games and three assists for Kaka in Europe. It’s hard to argue with those kind of stats.
In the group stages he scored a penalty against AEK, and scored four against Anderlecht, one of those another penalty. So half of his Champions League goals were scored in the group stages against the two teams who did not qualify for the next round. He then scored the one goal against Celtic that Milan needed to progress to the quarter finals. Another penalty against Bayern Munich in the quarters. Finally, there are the three goals he scored against us in the semis. So, three of his ten goals were penalties, and five of them came against teams who weren’t good enough for even the First knockout round.
This isn’t me trying to tear a strip off Kaka, saying he’s no good, because I entirely agree with the opinion that Kaka is World class, one of the best talents of his time. When he’s on it, he’ll play brilliant football, scoring wonderful and important goals, and the fact he scored ten goals in fifteen Champions League games is a brilliant achievement. However, I don’t believe his Champions League performances warrant him being crowned the best in the World. Fifteen games, ten goals and six assists for Kaka, compared to eleven games, three goals (in the quarters and semis) and five assists for Ronaldo.
If we look at the players stats from the Champions League and their domestic league, it becomes quite clear that Ronaldo was robbed.
Games – 42
Goals – 20
Assists – 18
Games – 46
Goals – 18
Assists – 12
I am not doubting the reasons why Kaka was given the award, rather disagreeing with them. The Champions League is higher profile than the Premiership, and even though Milan finished fourteen points behind the side we stuffed 7-1 in the quarter finals, winning the cup competition takes on more prestige than winning the league, even if it is the best league in Europe. That is not an opinion I agree with though, even though it is one that is widely believed. Winning your league proves your the best team in your country, winning a cup competition, whether it’s the Champions League, FA Cup or League Cup, proves nothing.
However, unfortunately for Ronaldo, playing in the country he does makes it highly unlikely he will win the awards anytime soon, which is an issue I addressed back in November. Players in England miss out on the award, they are overlooked for players competing in Italy, Spain and even Germany. The fact that a United player hasn’t scooped the top awards since 1968 speaks volumes, particularly when you consider the talent we’ve had in the team since then.
Ronaldo has remained upbeat about the situation though, and it is important for us all to note he is only twenty two, and by the time he is twenty five, like Kaka, it is hard to imagine he will have still been denied what is rightfully his.
“I want to win more individual trophies and I want to win the domestic ones again,” said Ronaldo. “I started to play professional football a few years ago and I’ve had time to play and think about my career. I try to do better and I want to win everything!”
Should Ronaldo have won European and World player of the Year? When do you think he will win these awards?