Thierry Henry is probably the best ever foreigner to have plied his trade in the premiership and is definitely the most exciting. He scored a lot of great goals and even more crucial goals for Arsenal as went on to become the club’s highest ever goalscorer.
The 1 big criticism of him and this has blighted his career is his tendency to go missing in big games. He has done it so many times for Arsenal and France and at Barcelona, most of his good performances and they have not being many have been against weak opposition.
The 1st time I witnessed Ronaldo in action was when he came on for his Manchester United debut against Bolton Wanderers and his impact was immediate and incredible. I was so impressed that I called a friend of mine who is an avid United supporter to tell him that a star was indeed born.
Even though Ronaldo had his critics in England with a lot of people saying he showboats way too much and his case was style over substance, I never felt that this was true as I have always been a fan of those players that bring something else to the field of play.
He was impressive not only against modest opposition but as he displayed for Portugal in the Euro2004, he was quite capable of taking up the mantle of Luis Figo and producing superb displays irrespective of the opposition.
This trend continued through to the world cup 2006 where he was impressive before he was kicked on the thigh quite brutally by Holland’s Kahlid Boulahrouz.
Then came the 2006/2007 season where he conquered all before him and I was totally convinced that he was the best player in the world with superb displays in the league and his performances against Roma, especially in the 1st leg, when United were playing with 10 men, were just superb. It then started to change a little bit as he was ineffective against AC Milan in the semi-finals but I put that down to amount of respect that Milan paid him by putting Gennaro Gattuso on his case.
He continued that in the FA Cup final against Chelsea but I put that down to tiredness and gave him the benefit of the doubt. But I started to become sceptical this season because even though he has scored a remarkable 30 goals in his last 31 games for United, Ronaldo has been anonymous in all the big names this season.
He was not that effective against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool and in the champions’ league, he was invisible against Lyon in both ties.
His critics have been saying it for a long time that he only performs well against modest opposition but before this season, I did not believe it, as he always played well for Portugal and looked like their leader.
To be the best in the world, he has to show up in big games and as Thierry Henry found to his cost, you do not win the big individual prizes by being the big fish in the Premiership shining against modest defences and then disappearing on the big occasions.
Lets face it even if the premiership is the most popular and most watched league in the world, it is the really big games that fans are glued on their TV to watch and not all of them would be that interested in Manchester United versus Sunderland as partial observers so if Ronaldo or Henry before him fails to shine in the really big televised matches then it is no wonder they would not win the European and World footballer of the year.
It may be that Ronaldo may have to go to Spain or Italy to prove himself playing against much tougher defenders than he comes up against in the premiership. He also needs to leave to become a better player as well. The likes of Kaka of AC Milan find the defending in champions’ league much easier than it is in SerieA as his goals in Champions league testify.
It would be a great shame if Ronaldo is seen upon as a player that only shines against weak opposition as he is much better than that.