MADRID: Striker Ronaldo found that fame can be a fickle mistress on Wednesday, despite Real Madrid’s impressive showing in their 3-1 victory over fellow titans Manchester United in their European Champions League quarter-final first leg the previous night.
Real Madrid’s World Player of the Year had been the fan’s favourite since his arrival from Inter Milan last summer but recent lacklustre showings have turned the Santiago Bernabeu faithful against him.
He left the field, after being substituted late in the game, to whistles ringing in his ears while the rest of the team went into the dressing room a few minutes later being cheered to the rafters of the historic stadium.
“Supporters are like a woman, they need to be conquered daily,” a doleful Ronaldo told reporters after the game, trying to make light of the situation.
“They know I can do better, and I hope to do better, but overall I am still happy with my performance,” added the Brazilian World Cup winner.
The 70,000 Real Madrid supporters might have been wooed a bit more if he had been awarded a penalty after 18 minutes when he was clearly obstructed in the box by the United defender Wes Brown.
“It was one of the clearest penalties of my life. There has been only one other occasion I can recall similar to this,” reflected “Ronie”, as he has become known in the Spanish capital.
Even United’s manager Alex Ferguson admitted that Brown’s clumsy block was a foul.
“Yes, it did look like a penalty to me,” conceded the Scot.
Nevertheless, despite the avalanche of brickbats falling on his star’s head, Real Madrid coach Vicente Del Bosque was quick to defend Ronaldo.
“He’s very important to us. I didn’t bring him off before (the 83rd minute) because I always thought he looked like he was going to score,” commented Del Bosque.
Apart from Ronaldo though, who has gone from flavour of the month to a sour taste in many people’s mouths, the Spanish press could not contain its praise of Real Madrid on Wednesday.
“We are so good. The white angels dance around the Red Devils,” boasted a headline in the Spanish sports daily Marca, Spain’s biggest selling newspaper.
Its rival As was not to be outdone in hyperbole.
“Here there is only one king,” said As, comparing Madrid’s two-goal hero Raul Gonzalez with United’s disappointing David Beckham.
Marca did offer a note of consolation to perhaps the loneliest man in the Real Madrid dressing room, whose attempts to court his team’s fans were as weak as his four shots at the United goal on Tuesday.
“I think Ronaldo will show us all what he is really capable of at Old Trafford.
“At the moment, he seems to only turn it on away from the Bernabeu.
“Perhaps Vicente Del Bosque should consider some changes at home,” commented an editorial in Marca. – AFP