In the midst of Euro 2008, there were several reports claiming Luiz Filipe Scolari, who had just taken on the job as Chelsea manager, was advising Ronaldo to leave United for Real Madrid. In an interview Ronaldo claimed that Scolari had said that the opportunity to join Real is once in a lifetime and he shouldn’t miss that opportunity.
However, Scolari has surprisingly denied he ever said those things. “I never advised Cristiano Ronaldo to change his club,” he Scolari. “I want to make that clear.”
With much of the footballing press revolving around the idea that Ronaldo could be leaving us this summer, the fans of our title rivals have got very excited, more focussed on the Ronaldo saga than any of their own transfers.
“One man team” is what some people have dubbed us, which I find absolutely ridiculous. It was Paul Scholes who scored the goal to put us in to the European Cup final, after Ronaldo missed the penalty at the Nou Camp. It was Van der Sar who saved Anelka’s penalty, after six of our players put them away, when Ronaldo missed in the final.
There is no denying Ronaldo had a wonderful season, but this notion that he single-handedly claimed us our honours is quite frankly insulting to our other players.
United had the best defensive record in the Premiership last season, thanks to Van der Sar, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic and Brown. Maybe I missed the game where Ronaldo was making the last ditch tackles or spending 90 minutes tracking back. Whilst Chelsea’s home record courts a lot of publicity, it is worthwhile to note that we picked up 9 more points at Old Trafford than they did at Stamford Bridge, conceding just 7 times in 19 matches, in comparison to their 13.
Carlos Tevez was the 9th highest scoring player in the Premiership, scoring 4 more goals than any Chelsea player. Wayne Rooney was the highest scoring English player last season, finishing 11th in the league. If we imagine Ronaldo hadn’t played in our league for United last season, we’d have had two players in the top 10 scorers, which is one more than Arsenal and Liverpool, and two more than Chelsea.
Only two players assisted more goals than Wayne Rooney last season, which is pretty remarkable when you consider he played in just 27 of the 38 league games due to injury (meaning his missed close to 1/3 of the Premiership season). Ronaldo put a large chunk of those away, but it’s insane to think that there wouldn’t have been other players on the park there to finish the chances Rooney created. Imagining Rooney had been fit for the whole season, the goals he scored, as well as his assists he made, would certainly have been much higher.
It appears as though Scolari is more wise than the groups of people who seem to think that United will crumble without Ronaldo’s goals. People thought the same when we sold Ruud van Nistelrooy, but after he left, we scored 11 more goals than the previous season and won the league. “Can Manchester United score? They always score…” and we don’t depend upon Ronaldo in that respect. We will start next season as favourites to win the league again, with or without Cristiano.
“If Ronaldo stays or does not stay in Manchester is not my business,” added Scolari. “It’s not only Ronaldo in Manchester. Ronaldo is one very fantastic player, but he does not play alone. If he goes or does not go, the league for Chelsea is still very, very difficult.”