Ronaldo to Man United: What’s prompting it this time?
This week the most used images of Cristiano Ronaldo have been those of him in Portugal training holding a finger to his mouth. His ‘shut-up’ pose has been repeated, it’s not just a one-off from the Real Madrid star, he’s struck the pose outside of training too, clearly trying to send a message.
Ronaldo’s problem is that people won’t, and pretty much can’t, shut-up. The Catalan media have understandably been waiting for something like his tax case. That things have now got serious, with the former Manchester United player accused of swindling the authorities out of €14.7m, it’s been like a mid-summer Christmas.
Catalan newspapers have been wheeling out old front pages of other Spanish newspapers and comparing their coverage of the Messi case and this one. Funnily enough, the Catalan newspapers aren’t judging their own level of treatment to each player, but it still puts pressure on usually Madrid friendly press to cover the story prominently.
So, as the Catalan media laughed, mocked, and pre-emptively accused everyone of bias, the Madrid media fell over themselves to appear fair. There were no big claims coming from Real Madrid angrily insisting innocence and a conspiracy.
At times the Barcelona friendly coverage of Messi’s tax case seemed several steps away from blaming Franco, it was all so unfair. And then, when it ended, Barcelona’s reaction was beyond reason, and pretty much insulting.
Messi was convicted on three counts of tax evasion. There were pretty credible arguments to mitigate Messi’s role, that he was too young when it started, ill informed, trusting. That would have been the way for Barcelona to go with a PR campaign. Hey, we all make mistakes when we’re young.
But no, with the club quivering in fear at the prospect of Messi not renewing (he still hasn’t by the way), they gave up all shame and launched the #WeAreAllLeoMessi campaign.
‘Using the hashtag #WeAreAllLeoMessi while posting a photo or message with both hands open, the campaign is encouraging all Barça fans to express their sympathy for the greatest footballer in the world by voicing their unconditional support on social networks.’
Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona president, may look meek but his arrival leads the club’s top staff to panic. If Barcelona are away around the world and Bartomeu is set to arrive, then it’s clothes straightened, everyone in order, welcoming committee at the door.
Yet even he collapsed at the feet of the convicted Messi, sending the following cringeworthy tweet:
Leo, those who attack you are attacking Barça and its history. We’ll defend you to the end. Together forever!
— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) July 8, 2016
So as fans did their jazz hands, and supported their hero, it was in the hope and expectation that Messi would renew soon. That was in July, that he still hasn’t may be nothing more than a sign he quite likes the fawning.
What has this got to do with Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United?
A lot. With CR14.7 now having his own tax case, or cases, he feels targeted, hurt, used. Pretty much the same as Messi.
Because there’s nobody around to suggest that behaving like a big baby about it isn’t the best route, these feelings are encouraged. A Bola and others in Portugal report that Ronaldo doesn’t fancy returning to Spain, so angered is he by the situation.
Ronaldo considers himself a ‘victim of persecution’, is ‘deeply disillusioned’, and wants to leave Spain despite his ‘deep passion’ for Real Madrid.
Record say Ronaldo is angered at having been accused of ‘consciously’ taking steps to defraud the Spanish tax authorities of €14.7m.
That then leads to Manchester United links, and whilst there’s no concrete reporting of that, it’s an understandable assumption to make.
Over in Spain, Marca back up Ronaldo’s desire to leave, saying that whilst the club are trying to calm him down, it’s something the Ballon d’Or winner has thought about seriously. This isn’t just a spur of the moment thing.
The reasons for the stance are that Ronaldo feels hurt by the tax case, persecuted by the press, not supported enough by Real Madrid, and let down by the club. He wants a fresh start, and Marca say it could now be the player’s chance to return to Manchester United.
Is Ronaldo looking for a #WeAreAllCristiano response from Real Madrid? Maybe, but surely not as poorly thought up. It’s fair to say the Catalan press are far more pro Messi, and by extension, for them at least, that means continually having a go at Ronaldo, than is the case vice-versa.
Marca, AS, and others haven’t been quite as submissive to Ronaldo as Sport and Mundo Deportivo are to Messi. And, although not to the same degree, similar could be said about the clubs.
Should Cristiano Ronaldo be judging his own treatment solely on comparison to Lionel Messi, rather than what sanity would consider reasonable, then he’s bound to feel let down.
Real Madrid will just have to manage that, massage the player’s ego, find a way to spin the tax situation, and start a fresh Ballon d’Or campaign. No matter how sickly it may be.
Or we could have a whole summer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United.