YES, it would appear so. 2008’s answer to the Ken-Deirdre-Mike Baldwin love triangle has been resolved. And as predicted by this blog a whole two months ago, Cristiano Ronaldo is staying at Manchester United.
I’ve a feeling that my blog entry of June 9, when I drew a comparison between Ronaldo and Deirdre Barlow, may have been in the winger’s mind when he gave the following quote to the Portuguese newspaper Publico:
“The press has written some terrible things about me and about this whole thing. They’ve invented a thousand and one things and that’s one of the reasons why I decided to talk about this now.”
Sorry, Ronnie. I promise never to compare you to a Coronation Street character ever again.
The biggest shock about this morning’s Ronaldo interview, in which he states that he is staying at Old Trafford, is the realisation that the saga is actually over. That’s it. No more waiting, no more will-he-or-won’t-he guesswork. We have the definitive answer. OK, for United fans, there’s still the whole Dimitar Berbatov thing to pore over, but as a plot, it comes a poor second to the Ronaldo storyline.
A friend of mine, who works in football, has given me a few tip-offs on stories involving Premier League clubs which have turned out to be unerringly accurate. Way back at the start of the summer, he told me that Ronaldo would probably stay at United for one more season and then go to Madrid.
Now an awful lot could happen in the next 12 months: Ronaldo might lose his form, he might struggle with injuries, he might decide that he wants to spend the rest of his days rattling round the more luxurious parts of Cheshire, Madrid might go off him. But everything Ronaldo said in the interview published this morning suggests that he is likely to go to the Bernabeu next summer.
“People have to understand one thing: at the age of 18 I arrived at a dream club like Manchester United,” he said. “It was a dream come true.
“But, even at that moment, I was thinking about playing in England for some years and then going to play in Spain. Even at that time I was thinking that way, and I always gave 100 per cent everything.
“Why lie? I’m not going to be a hypocrite and say the opposite of what I think, like some others do.
“I said exactly what I thought: I have a dream of playing at Real and I thought it was time to move on. People can’t be upset about me fulfilling a childhood dream.”
So it’s not quite the end of the story. There’s still scope for the plot to linger on into next summer, when there will be no European Championship or World Cup to keep the football world occupied.
But even so, the major drama has been played out. You see, it’s all about the law of diminishing returns. Even if Ronaldo left for Real next summer, he wouldn’t be able to recapture the level of tension reached this summer, because a lot of us would be expecting it.
In fact, there’s only one way the Ronaldo story would be able to hit anywhere near the same heights in 2009. And that’s if he suddenly decided he wanted to join Liverpool. More Heinze, anyone?