I don't think anyone can argue with Cristiano Ronaldo winning
the Ballon d'Or; he fully deserves the award for what he has achieved over the
past 12 months.
To score 42 goals in one season while winning both the
Premier League and the Champions League is quite some individual feat.
But I'm glad he has the good sense to realise he could not
have done it without a substantial amount of help from his team-mates.
All too often the little things go unnoticed - the tackle
won by Rio Ferdinand to set off another attack, Nemanja Vidic putting himself
on the line to preserve a lead, Michael Carrick's decisive pass, or Wayne
Rooney holding the ball up.
These are the contributions that have enabled Ronaldo to
become the best footballer in Europe - and fortunately
he is man enough to recognise that.
But where does he go from here? Winning the Ballon d'Or is widely
regarded as the pinnacle of any player's career; there's only one way to go now,
and it certainly isn't up.
Before the season started, I thought it impossible for him
to hit the same heights, and since the new campaign started he has done little
to change that point of view.
His performance against Manchester City
was typical of his form so far this season - Micah Richards had the measure of
him, his tricks were not working and he became increasingly more irritable as
the game wore on.
He eventually started moaning at his own players and his
tackle on Shaun Wright-Phillips - which saw him booked - smacked of frustration. His sarcastic applause to the referee on being shown the yellow card was plain petulant.
As for the hand ball which saw him sent off... I don't think
anyone has a credible explanation.
It was an embarrassing episode, especially considering some
of the excuses given. There was no push. The referee did not blow his whistle. And
Alex Ferguson's explanation that the player was trying to protect his face was
While Ronaldo accepts his team-mates have helped him win such
a prestigious award, this kind of behaviour from him on the pitch is doing
nothing for them.
Teams tend to raise their game against the champions anyway,
but his antics are only serving to wind up the opposition and the crowd, making
it even more difficult to get anything from games. And that is not fair on his
Come the opening of the transfer window, either in January
or in the summer, I would be surprised if he is not again linked with a move to
And next time round, United should think longer and harder
about cashing in on him, even if it means losing the reigning European footballer of the year.
The club does not need, or deserve, another long-winded,
drawn out saga over a player who, despite his incredible achievements over the
past 12 months, is currently failing to live up to expectations.