Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ronaldinho - why the criticism?

Regardless of the possibility of signing Ronaldinho, the very fact we are linked with him would get the pulses going and that it would be unanimously thought of as a great coup.

Not so it appears.

In today's MEN, Chris Bailey sets out his case for eschewing the possibility of signing the Brazillian - under the headline 'Sidestep the superstars', and implored the club to concentrate and focus on youth instead.

All very noble sentiment indeed, except the article from Bailey is littered with statements and arguments that don't wash, and I am still stunned that anyone who supports (or linked with) the club could seriously make a case for not signing him.

Paraphrasing the article, Bailey asserts that he doesn't want the club to become a home for faded superstars and that the progression of youth is the way to go.

I feel though it is worth challenging some of the points he has raised (Bailey's in italics, my response in standard font):

Far better to build a side than bring in a Ronaldinho, David Beckham or Luis Figo who are past their practical best on the pitch, even if they do shift plenty of units of memorabilia and replica kit in the Far East.

I agree entirely with not bringing in a mid-30's agre range player who is clearly past it, but Ronaldinho would not be that type of player and it is a lazy argument to bring up the cliched 'Far East market' but Ronaldinho is not far removed from being voted World Player of the Year.

Signing such a player would also wreck the wage structure and that invariably leads to more problems, for there is hardly likely to be a harmonious dressing room if one of the members is changing on a pedestal, emblazoned with a label proclaiming him a prince amongst paupers.

There is clearly a wage differential between the squad at the moment, with the likes of Petrov, Corluka and Elano likely earning significantly more than the majority of the squad. Has this affected team morale and unity? Thought not.

And how many games do fans think you would get out of a Galactico? Take Ronaldinho as an example. He has averaged a little more than 20 outings per season, not much good when the league is over 38 games and you fancy a tilt at a cup competition or two. Surely it is far better to budget for a Lukas Podolski, Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch, Theo Walcott or Aaron Lennon and a holding midfielder of some class than an ageing superstar who sells shirts in the super stores of Asia?

Ronaldinho has suffered from injury problems this season but he has been a workhorse at Barcelona and he can hardly be labelled a 'fancy dan' who picks and chooses his games. The next argument is simply ridiculous - Bayern have said Podolski is part of their plans for next season, Walcott is clearly headed in the right direction at Arsenal and Keane is captain at Tottenham, a club who sold Jermaine Defoe in January. Are any of that trio likely to be available?

The Galacticos route so beloved of Real Madrid in recent years didn't really work in terms of cups and titles and, significantly, they are domestically performing much better now, without them. Closer to home, Newcastle's desire to spend hugely on big names has left them without a trophy for longer than City.
In any case, Blues followers must surely have had enough during the Keegan era of older players who had built their reputations elsewhere being brought in for one last pay-day.

To lump Ronaldinho alongside Paul Bosvelt, Robbie Fowler and worst of all, Steve McManaman is ludicrous. We are not talking here of a player who is sniffing around for one last play-day but a world class player who could potentially have a huge impact on the side.

The best way forward for City is surely from the roots up. Keep pumping money into a wonderful Academy that produces genuine talent for club and country and augment that with judicious purchases from home and abroad each summer and there is a recipe for success.

I agree with developing the Academy but Bailey himself admits this mix needs to be added to with outside purchases and it is clear that at the moment the squad is some way off challenging for a Champions League berth, let alone the UEFA Cup.

So, let Ronaldinho play out his days in the sun in Italy. It is not lack of ambition it is commonsense and the creation of something more long lasting.

Play out his days in the sun? He is 28 years old and considered one of the best players in the world. Why on earth would this move not be considered commonsense and the creation of something more long lasting.

I have also read comparison with Gio Kinkladze and the problems we had fitting him into the team ethic, but we now had a side that can compete, not one that was filled with the likes of Ged Brannan and Neil Heaney.

One man does not make a team, but one man can make a team better and that is what we would get with Ronaldino in the line up. I find it staggering that anyone can actually consider a move for him to be a bad one and there is not a convincing argument that can be made to suggest that if a move for him was viable then it should be turned down in the interests of being better for their club.

vote it up!

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