Sunday, August 3, 2008

So Here We Are...

2 pre-season games.
2 wins.
5 goals scored,
3 conceded,
0 signings,
50,000 rumors on who we are supposed to be signing

That we have scored 5 goals can be explained by the simple fact that we have been playing these pre-season matches with pretty much our first choice attacking lineup: a fit-again Ruud Van Nistelrooy, a fully-rested Raul (complete with a burning fire to avenge his wounded pride form being excluded from Euro 2008) and Guti, and a no-longer-injured Arjen Robben. We can add Wesley Sneijder to that pile too, he’s found his form late last season and played well during the Euros too.

Defensively, we are missing Cannavaro who got injured training for the Euro 2008, Pepe’s injured too and Metzelder isn’t being played to rest him and get him conditioned to play (not that it makes much of a difference because he was awful in Euro 2008 so part of me thinks that him playing might’ve made things worse). Then there’s Sergio Ramos and Super Iker both, not yet fully integrated to the team in the same way that Metzelder is.
We’ve had a starting defensive lineup of Dudek, Salgado, Javi Garcia, Heinze and Miguel Torres. They’ve been awful. Salgado works hard but is slow, lumbering and cumbersome. Javi Garcia is not a centerback; and though he’s played in that role for Osasuna last year, in these 2 matches, he’s clearly shown that he’s not up to scratch in that role. Heinze’s been so-so and Torres is really just a defensive utilityman… thus the 3 conceded goals.

So who’s joining Real Madrid this year?

Cristiano Ronaldo?
Perhaps I should throw my sentiments into the huge pot of opinions on Cristiano Ronaldo. Let me first say that at this point in time, Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s best player. And this comes form 2 main factors: 1.) he’s really that good. And 2.) Messi’s been injured for the larger part of this past season and Kaka had a mediocre season which was made worse by a new injury. It is logical for Madrid to be looking for that ‘supercrack’, that one galactico-calibre player to not only give them that class to take over and win games which should ultimately lead to winning the ‘tenth’ (European Cup). The other reason for that ‘galactico’ signing is the simple fact that Real need a talisman: not a symbolical one like Raul or Guti or Casillas. But one who stood above all very clearly as that world-beating player: the same way Figo, Zidane and the pre-weight-problems Ronaldo… and perhaps also that marketing magnet the way that Becks was.

But what’s the deal? Does Cristiano Ronaldo really wanna come to Madrid? Is his so-called ‘dream’ to play for RM for real? Or is it lip service? Is he merely trying to get a contract upgrade that would see him get paid like Chelsea’s Michael Ballack & John Terry (and possibly Frank Lampard)? If anything, his vague stance has been very odd and suspicious to me at least. Players bring down their transfer price when they very clearly state their intent to leave… something which he hasn’t don’t to this point: which is why we’re all still talking about an 85m Euro transfer fee. I look on with my eyebrows raised. As for my thoughts on the player himself, I will state that it will probably be the same with him as it was to another former Manchester United player who joined Madrid: RVN. I hated RVN when he played for Man U…absolutely hate him… I used to call him just a lucky prick who scored ugly and cheap goals. But in RM’s white, I love the guy! Cristiano Ronaldo to me is an undeniably talented player, but he’s an irritatingly arrogant prick to me too. In my view, Real Madrid have already spent too much time chasing after him and I’m starting to feel that if he’s not going to do his part by initiating a move, then I think we’re better off just keeping that 85m in the bank to use it to pay out part of the club’s debt. Somehow, I’m still thinking / asking myself…. Should we not have just gone after Ricardo Quaresma instead?

What is REALLY, REALLY pissing me off about this whole Cristiano Ronaldo matter is its clear effect on another member of the RM squad whom I really like: Robinho. Robinho is going to be one of the world’s best players. I have no doubt about that. And we’ve ‘bred’ him at RM: through the galactico-era where he would do a few stopovers to try to beat his many and then fall lazily on the gorund to try to get a foul to the player he was early on last season: scoring goals, running rings through defenders and winning games for us. It seems clear that this whole business with Cristiano Ronaldo and him being used as trade bait has either upset him or has taught him that this is the perfect motive to feign discontent to eke out a massive pay rise. This whole business is REALLY awful, and though my assumptions may be wrong: I’d really hate to see Robinho leave Real Madrid, and if it was this Cristiano Ronaldo bit that made it happen, then that’d really, really piss me off.

Rafael Van Der Vaart?

I’ll admit it: while the rumors swirled endlessly last season on who would join Real Madrid, I was more keen on Rafael Van Der Vaart over Wesley Sneijder. I of course, later changed my mind having seen what Sneijder can do. But now, here we are again: on the brink. I will confess now that upon hearing of RM’s plans to get VDV, I began to raise an eyebrow thinking: Why do we need another attacking midfielder? He have Sneijder and Guti already…. Baptista as well. But that’s the answer! Baptista is physically strong and has a great shot, but he’s also got a poor first touch and is a lousy passer (see my assessment of him previously). And Guti… yes he is a club talisman, having been through RM’s youth system. But he’s 1.) inconsistent, 2.) can’t play when crowded 3.) got a bad temper 4.) moody. It would be good indeed to have a replacement who’s 1.) got great class 2.) 5 years younger, 3.) got great goal scoring ability and 4.) will cost supposedly only 11m euros (to put things in context, Sneijder cost 27m)

Can’t wait for all this mind-numbing transfer speculation to end…. And the season to begin!

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