Cristiano Ronaldo News

Friday, August 25, 2006

When whistles did the opposite

Gestifute Media was in London and saw Cristiano Ronaldo shine

One shot onto the bar, participation in two moves that the woodwork blocked, some more shots and his normal enchanting dancing way of making gaps. That was Cristiano Ronaldo’s game in London, the first away from Old Trafford since the “Rooney story”. Whistles were heard, of course whistles were heard, but the “kid who is a great player”, as Ferguson said, seemed to have blocked his ears with cotton wool. He took the game on, he always asked for the ball, he nearly always got it, he treated it with affection, as usual, and he helped his team mates, ran, crossed, shot, and played a lot. So much so that he was the best on the pitch. The whistles started to sound like the roar of a lion, at the start. But as time passed by, they changed into cats purrs, until they ended completely. “Cristiano, well, he was simply fantastic”, praised Alex Ferguson at the end. The stands were quiet, because they understood that you can’t feel full of polemic when the centre of attention is a predestined.

Manchester United beat Charlton 3-0, with goals from Fletcher, Saha and Solskjaer. Ronaldo didn’t score any. But he could have scored, if the crossbar hadn’t stopped a spectacular shot in the first half, just two minutes before the end. Now whistles could not be heard. The speed of Ronaldo was so great, that he beat anyone who wasn’t ready for it, pulled out of midfield, received the ball from Saha, raced to outside the area and shot superbly. The bar stopped it. The stands, which were suddenly silenced, showed the relief of the Charlton fans.

Much earlier, it was understood that they were waiting for Cristiano Ronaldo. The stands at The Valley were still considerably empty when Manchester United came out to warm up. It was twenty-five to seven. Cristiano Ronaldo was the last-but-one out of the tunnel. Calmly, even when he started to hear the first boos. Indifferent to them, he did his exercise without seeming to notice, and without any sign of nerves. This was confirmed a little later when he showed off a few artistic tricks, juggling acts with the ball which very few know how to do.

At 7.35, with Manchester United still warming up, the speaker announced the line-ups. Can you guess who was the only one to get a chorus of whistles? Cristiano Ronaldo, of course. He stayed calm out on the filed. Ten minutes before kick-off, Manchester United headed for the tunnel. The Portuguese player was one of the last. On one side a lot of applause from the Manchester fans; on the other side that which had been predicted: whistles were the order of the day.

The teams went on to the pitch. Cristiano Ronaldo was the last, behind Saha. He got the same reception he had had earlier. He was impassive. He heard it, but he ignored it, he told Gestifute Media later.

The rain started to fall more heavily, the game started, and 40 seconds later Cristiano Ronaldo got his first touch. A huge noise filled the stadium, except for the part behind Van der Sar’s goal, a stand which was completely full of Manchester United fans, on a state of alert: : “the only Ronaldo” was being booed and they were there to defend their kid from the chants and chants of abuse. With singing that started with “Ronaldo plays on the left, Ronaldo play’s on the right, he’s the best” and continued with some pinpricks at Beckham, completely overtaken by this young Portuguese player who Gestifute represent.

Cristiano Ronaldo got the ball frequently. He ran forward, went to the line, recovered, go the ball back, shot. It was weak, but there was a certainty in the magic feet, and the fans showed signs of panic, which then turned into signs of joy. He, “that one”, the special, had shot to the side. He, that one, finished playing on the wings, first on the right, then on the left, swapping with Park, then with Giggs playing in support of Saha in this game in which Rooney suffered the first of his three suspended games.

It was a rare occasion for the ball not to be passed to the feet of Cristiano. He heard the whistles, but he ignored them and, far from hiding from the game, started slowly to show more things. Minute 22: the number nine started his feet dancing. Ball under one leg, foot over the ball, he zigzagged and when he tried to make a diagonal move into the area he was stopped with a foul. A great move, without recognition from the harshest fans. Ronaldo had won the free kick, but it was Giggs who struck the ball - against the post. Cristiano put his head in his hands. The best chance of the game had been missed.

Every two minutes Ronaldo had the ball at his feet - getting past his opponent, supporting his colleagues, shooting. There was always a great frisson in the stands. There was a lot of happiness when the ball went over or to the side and a worry when it was at his feet. . Minute 35: Cristiano went past two opponents. Whistles, which were now less intense, then silence. Only when his pass was intercepted did the happiness show itself. Whistles once again, because he had toe-punted into the corner. After that, a great move which plunged the stadium into complete silence (43’), and only the smack of the ball could be heard when his shot hit the crossbar. It would have been an absolutely fantastic goal, but it wasn’t to be. Charlton breathed, and they breathed again a little later when Cristiano jumped high above all the others, and headed, but connected with the top of the net. Half time came. He was the first into the tunnel, with no reaction from the fans.

The same Cristiano Ronaldo came out for the second half – involved, majestic, elegant and authoritative. But the whistles didn’t return; they started to get weaker every time the forward touched the ball. The joke wasn’t funny any more, concluded some of the local supporters. He plays a lot, nothing to do about it. It was a little later that a ball went from his feet to Fletcher, who in the middle of a lot of attention from the home defence opened the scoring.

The game was now being run by United. The game was now being run by Cristiano Ronaldo. A touch with the heel, that merited the silence in the stadium, a cross, one more great ball, for Park to strike against the post, after 57 minutes. Another cross which the goalkeeper Carson had to punch clear. The whistles were now practically inexistent. And the same occurred after the second and third United goals (80’ and 89’) and after some more tricks from the lad who had a great game, who is a great player, and really is a phenomenon.

It ended, naturally, with a victory for Manchester. And with Cristiano Ronaldo passing, with distinction, his first test away from home. But some fans told Gestifute Media that Charlton is a friendly club, quiet and not very aggressive. The worst welcome will be those in the meetings with the most direct adversaries, such as Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool. Nothing that Cristiano Ronaldo will lose sleep over, though. A man with this sort of football in his feet doesn’t fear anybody. He does his business. When he entered the tunnel in the direction of the changing rooms one or other of Charlton’s English fans insisted on whistling. But Cristiano was above it. He adopted a humble posture dropping his shoulders slightly, and applauded the stadium. There was silence. This time it was definitive.

Recognition for the support he felt throughout the game turned into personal thanks when the game finished. Cristiano Ronaldo headed for the stand where hundreds of Manchester United fans were sitting, closed his fist, thumped his chest a number of times, on the club’s crest, close to his heart. “There’s only one Ronaldo”, was heard time and again from the stand “I wanted to thank them in a clear way” Ronaldo justified, a little later, to Gestifute Media. And so he confirmed his devotion to the club, at which he has become one of the most emblematic idols.


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