I just don’t get it. The continuing story in the news for the past month has been Ronaldo. Cristiano this, Cristiano that. It has become a tad annoying, especially in light of recent statements from his club, Manchester United.
But what gets me more is Real Madrid. I cannot really see the appeal (in footballing terms) of moving to Madrid. Ok, so the city might be great and the weather, well, dry and sunny most of the year, but in terms of football, I feel, as many do, that La Liga falls a long way short of being anywhere near as entertaining as the Premiership (which, as we should all know, is not anywhere near as entertaining as the Championship). La Liga is a league dominated by two teams, Madrid and Barcelona. The other teams almost seem to recognise the fact that they will start the new season as ‘also-rans’, rather than being able to compete successfully for the entireity of a season.
Ok, so there are parallels with the Premiership (the dominance of big teams, the absurdity of wealth) but there are also significant differences. I genuniely believe that the Premiership is a better league than La Liga, Serie A or indeed the Bundesliga. It is probably the best league in the world in terms of entertainment, drama, excitement and passion. Which is why it is so lucrative to be in it.
All this brings me back to me intial point, why do footballers get drawn in by teh bright lights of Madrid like moths to a flame? What is the appeal? Ok, so Madrid won La Liga last term, but they failed in the Champions League, again, and are no longer a team of ‘galacticos’ that was once famously assembled for big cash. No, I feel Madrid are struggling amid the weight of their own glorious history. Gone are the days when they can win league after league, cup after cup. Somewhat ironically, Man Utd do not seem to have this weight of history. That is not to say there is not a weight, of course there is, but they do not seem to be as overawed by it. The club itself is much more ‘down-to-earth’, or as close as you can get a huge multi-national commercial venture. The Munich air-crash was remembered last season, but the past glories and the anniversary of the tragedy did not hamper the team as they won the double, including the Champions League. History indeed was important, but the current Man Utd team seem more intent on making their own.
Which is why I am no nearer to understanding why Ronaldo wants so desperately to move to Madrid. I am highly doubtful it is the football, United played some of the most attractive stuff anywhere last year. I am equally doubtful it is that the club ‘lacks ambition’ as some footballers would have you believe as they move. I’m afraid in the stark reality that is modern football, the only reason for him wanting a move is money. Which is a pity, because he is one of the few footballers who can raise a stadium single handedly.