LET RONALDO ROT IN THE STANDS
MANCHESTER UNITED have already said they would rather let Cristiano Ronaldo rot in the stands than sell him to Real Madrid.
For the future of football and for every club in the world I hope they mean it — because they would be absolutely right.
If United can’t stop Ronaldo screwing up a contract and disappearing to another club simply because he fancies the move, then nobody can.
And if that’s where we’re at, then football descends into anarchy, contracts are meaningless bits of paper and the tail is well and truly wagging the dog.
United will only be concerned about themselves right now but they really are representing every other club.
I believe they have to dig in and say No. No to Real Madrid and No to the principle of a player deciding to walk out, irrespective of the years left on his contract.
And if United aren’t bothered about fighting their corner for everyone else, they have their own internal reasons for needing to fight this.
There are plenty of other players at Old Trafford that clubs like Real Madrid might suddenly decide they want.
If Ronaldo goes now, what’s to stop Carlos Tevez, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and all the others suddenly being lured away?
But it will take incredible boardroom strength to stand firm and resist the millions we expect Madrid to hurl United’s way now.
The timing of this entire affair has disappointed me, too.
I will never accept that a player of Ronaldo’s abilities would ever give anything less than 100 per cent when playing for his country.
But it’s an unavoidable fact that there will always be suspicion hanging over his performances for Portugal during these European Championships.
The fact he’s in the middle of such a bitter transfer controversy leaves Ronaldo wide open to the suggestion that his mind simply isn’t focused enough on winning the tournament for his country.
That’s unfortunate. Like everyone else, I spent last season marvelling at his skills and never bought into the accusation that he couldn’t produce the big performances when it really mattered.
You don’t become the Premier League’s leading scorer, or one of Europe’s most feared players unless you are consistently special.
I don’t believe this sorry saga has affected his performances in this tournament and I’d even include him in my team of the tournament.
But he HAS been the focus of attention for all the wrong reasons.
Instead of celebrating his trickery and goals, instead of wondering how on earth he managed to slip past defenders or blast home a thunderous free-kick, we have all been wondering what move he’ll make to get his transfer.
United are understandably angry right now with the whole situation.
But once the bruise starts to fade and blood flows back to the brain, there will be many commercial forces looking at the financial reality of rejecting a bid that could go as high as £70million.
I can’t think of a single club that has turned down that sort of money. But the world is watching and United’s next move will send a message that will echo throughout the game.
I don’t want to suddenly turn United into angels, either.
Ask Everton what it was like to lose Rooney to Old Trafford.
Were Tottenham happy at the way Michael Caddick packed his bag — and I don’t remember Bayern Munich being overjoyed at the way Owen Hargreaves was coaxed away.
So if United stand firm now, and I hope they do, they must realise that they are standing for a principle that will apply to them as well.
If the relationship between a club and its players revolves around the contract, then that contract has to be set in stone — and honoured by every manager, player, agent and board of directors. Including United’s.
Only then will we have some sanity and commonsense in the game — and not the anarchy Ronaldo’s move to Madrid would spell.
By Terry Venables