How a Cristiano Ronaldo rumour divided Manchester City fans

The Sunday Mirror were cock-a-hoop with this week’s big exclusive. Cristiano Ronaldo was considering a move to Manchester City, if a number of demands were met.

These included being paid a mere £400,000 a week, the number 7 shirt, being guaranteed the captaincy and to always be the top paid player at City. Plus he wanted a private helipad at the City of Manchester stadium, Ryan Gigg’s SIM card, 200 swans in a moat at his house and a personal slave to follow him around the pitch fanning him on warm match days.

When I saw the article I was left shaking my head at the ludicrous nature of the claims. The idea that City had really sent him a picture of a Bentley covered in money was ridiculous, and as usual there were few quotes except from anonymous “sources”, and all offers to him were made from mysterious third parties. Whatever, it will surely never happen whatever the truth, especially with the new financial fair play rules coming in. City cannot pay a player £400,000 a week in the same way they cannot make a £150m purchase.

The response to the rumour from City fans was fairly predictable. The idea of the world’s 2nd best player (debatable, I know) coming to City seemed to appal many. There is the United connection of course, not that that has stopped City before (though the appointment of David Platt last season for example was met with a wave of opposition and anger), but it was his behaviour on the pitch and as a human being in general that seemed to put most off.

Personally I care little for whether he is the world’s nicest man or an odious arrogant,  perma-tanned narcissist. He is without doubt one of a select band of players who would instantly take the team onto another level. Yes, City can be successful without him, but the fact is that with him success would be far more likely.

But for many, it would be a step too far. It would cross a line about who it is and isn’t acceptable to employ at the club. Don’t get me wrong, I am not totally apathetic to the character of new signings. There are certain players I would never want to see at this club, whatever their worth to the team. And there’s very little in the way that Ronaldo acts that endears me to him. Nor can I stand players who dive (he undoubtedly goes to ground very easily, as do a whole swathe of players nowadays), who whinge at referees, or who fancy themselves so much they burst into tears if a hair is misplaced after a crowded corner. But I could live with it. The fact is if Ronaldo had come through the ranks and was already a City player, every City fan would be defending his actions, just like United fans used to do. We are all hypocritical beasts, us football fans.

Either way, the discussion is redundant, apart from debating the hypotheticals of players you previously hated turning up at your club, as there is zero chance of Ronaldo moving to City, or anywhere else for that matter, this summer.

But what the whole story showed more than anything was how the media works – by Tuesday of this week The Sun’s EXCLUSIVE was how Ronaldo had snubbed City – yep, yet again a football club was snubbed by a player that they had probably never expressed any interest in. Only last week I personally snubbed Barcelona, and last year rejected a move to AC Milan. European football correspondent Antony Kastrinakis’s story about Cristiano Ronaldo turning down Manchester City’s offer was of course an EXCLUSIVE!

Kastrinakis got this exclusive by basically listening to an interview on Spanish radio. Though to be honest, he probably didn’t even do that.

Ideally of course I do want my club’s players to behave with decorum, respect and dignity at all times. I would love a team full of Vincent Kompanys and David Silvas. Players are repsentatives of the club, they affect its image, and the mentality of players like the two mentioned above are great for team spirit and for morale, as well as making the manager’s job a hundred times easier. But we are foolish to expect every player to be model professionals, as footballers have never been, and never will be good role models. I might not like him one bit, but if Cristiano Ronaldo had come to City he would never have been a club legend, but he would be welcome by me for what he would bring to the team. But the line any fan draws on who is and isn’t acceptable to buy is different for all, and it is understandable why many fans want nothing to do with him.