Seven reasons why Manchester United would be mad to sign Cristiano Ronaldo
Published 08/01/2016 | 10:38
So the saying goes: 'Never get back with your ex.' No matter how desperate, depressed and wistful for the past you may be - it should never be done.
The temptation for Manchester United to turn to an old flame of their own couldn't be more difficult to resist at the moment.
United have just come off the back of their longest winless run since 1988, their marquee strikers are incapable of finding the net with any regularity and to top it all off, their kit suppliers, who pay £750m for the pleasure of sponsoring their kit, have just condemned them as 'dull.'
And now the world's most lethal goalscorer of the past five years, Cristiano Ronaldo, has just announced he wants to leave Real Madrid. You could say it was meant to be.
The revelation that Cristiano Ronaldo intends to leave the Bernabeu at the end of the season has inevitably led many people to assume that the 30-year-old could be set for a move back to Manchester United, a club that Ronaldo has admitted is 'forever in my heart.'
Although the romanticism of a prospective return to the place where Ronaldo transformed from spotty teenager to world-dominating powerhouse will be an alluring one to many United fans, when you place the fairytale story under closer scrutiny, it is not such the match-made in heaven it appears to be. Here's why.
1. His father figure's gone
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably Manchester United's finest player in their recent history, but the Portuguese owed much of his success to the leadership of Alex Ferguson: the only manager Ronaldo says he would describe as 'a friend'.
Ronaldo's affection for United is always mentioned in the same breath as his love for father-figure Ferguson.
Assuming Louis van Gaal sees out the remaining two years of his Manchester United contract, Ronaldo would face the prospect of working with the fiery Dutchman - a manager of stark contrast to Fergie's fatherly influence.
Van Gaal's notoriously dictatorial style has already rankled with lesser egos at Manchester United, and it certainly would not be in Ronaldo's nature to back down in the face of a showdown.
2. He's in decline
It may seem nonsensical to say about a player who has won three Pichichi trophies with a goal record for his club that stands at 239 goals in 219 appearances - but the signs are there that CR7 may be past his best.
Yes, his best was truly fantastic, surpassed only by Lionel Messi in the modern era, but Ronaldo's start to the 2015/16 season suggests his superhuman goalscoring powers may be on the wane.
In Real Madrid's first two games of the La Liga season Ronaldo notched up a meagre 115 touches - the same as James Rodriguez managed in one appearance against Real Betis.
The forward's goal ratio has dipped to 116 minutes-a-goal compared to Suarez and Neymar's ratio of 96 minutes per goal.
Guillem Ballague echoed many Spanish commentators reservations over the former Manchester United striker's form when he wrote: "I just keep thinking we've seen the best of him."
Manchester United fans should consider the difficult truth that they've also seen the best of Ronaldo in a Manchester United shirt.
3. This team is far from the one Ronaldo left
Ronaldo's time at Manchester United coincided with a time when the club boasted one of the most thrilling group of players in their history.
In his four years at the club Ronaldo won three Premier League's, one FA Cup and one Champions League; but to assume that Ronaldo's signing would herald the return to former glorys would be naive. Despite collecting accolade after accolade on a personal level, Ronaldo has only won one La Liga title for the Los Blancos since arriving in 2009.
Since Ronaldo secured his dream move to Real Madrid, Manchester have sold Carlos Tevez, Dimitar Berbatov and Nemanja Vidic, while old-heads that were pivotal to United's domestic dominance have since retired.
Not only would Ronaldo be returning to a team without a settled line-up, but he would be playing alongside a misfiring Wayne Rooney. Given CR7 is renowned for his lack of patience with fellow teammates, it would be unwise to bring him into a team already devoid of confidence.
4. Bale is a better alternative
If the rumours are to be believed Ronaldo would cost potential suitors as much as £75m.
Considering Ronaldo is now approaching 31, the astronomical fee would be better spent on acquiring Ronaldo's Real Madrid team mate, Gareth Bale.
Bale is understood to be devastated by Rafa Benitez's dismissal and, while new manager Zinedine Zidane has sought to comfort the Welshman, it's understood Bale could be tempted by a move back to England.
Young, quick and versatile: Gareth Bale matches Cristiano Ronaldo's attributes and then some. If Manchester United's goal remains to build a capable of emulating Sir Alex Ferguson's dynasties, they should build their future around the humble young Welshman, rather than the self-serving Portuguese.
5. Can Manchester United contain his ego?
Cristiano Ronaldo left Old Trafford as a rising star, but he would return as a volatile supernova, primed to affect all those around him when he eventually explodes.
The comparison is not so far-fetched. Late last year a newly discovered galaxy was named CR7, after the Real forward.
Since Ronaldo's move to Spain in 2009 the CR7 brand has gone truly stratospheric. Biopics have followed underwear ranges, and there are no signs yet that Ronaldo is ready to reign in his rampant ego.
Ronaldo is unafraid to go head-to-head with managers, and is understood to have had a number of high-profile run-ins with outgoing Real Madrid manager, Rafa Benitez.
Ronaldo's self image has arguably surpassed that of David Beckham's at it's during his playing days. Given Sir Alex Ferguson famously sold the former England captain for becoming 'bigger than the club,' would Manchester United really be foolish enough to introduce as divisive a character as CR7?
Louis van Gaal, however, is a different proposition all together. History shows that those foolish enough to take on van Gaal have, more often that not, come off second best.
6. No man can be bigger than the club
Manchester United remain a club obsessed with history and philosophy - or more to the point - how to hang on to them both.
Much has been made of how Louis van Gaal's rigid tactics have flown in the face of the 'Manchester United way', but a move for a 30-year-old striker would be a dramatic departure from traditional Old Trafford values.
Even under Louis van Gaal Manchester United remain committed to promoting youth over importing players for a short term fix.
The exception that proves the rule is Robin van Persie who Sir Alex Ferguson signed in desperate pursuit of a Premier League title in his last season at the club. Van Persie's acromonious exit from Old Trafford in 2015 will have enforced the United doctrine for youth over luxury buys.
7. United are at a crucial crossroads
Three years after Alex Ferguson's departure marked the dawn of a new era at Old Trafford, Manchester United find themselves at another crossroads.
Manchester United have so far tried, and failed, to step out of the shadow of success cast by Fergie's legacy.
If Manchester United are to become a successful in it's own right from the Alex Ferguson era, then the club need to look to concentrate their attentions on the next Cristiano Ronaldo, not settle for the ageing original.
Jurgen Klopp categorically ruled out the prospect of Steven Gerrard returning to Anfield for the exact same reason: there comes a time when the club must move on without it's most recognised players; no player is bigger than the club, and Cristiano Ronaldo will always think he is.