Ronaldo's the REAL DEAL; Never Mind the Temptations of Spain, the Prince of Portugal Will Continue to Adorn Fergie's Kingdom

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 18, 2007 | Go to article overview

Ronaldo's the REAL DEAL; Never Mind the Temptations of Spain, the Prince of Portugal Will Continue to Adorn Fergie's Kingdom


Byline: JOE BERNSTEIN

MAN UNITED 4 Park (14, 25), Rooney (17, 74)

BOLTON 1 Speed (87 pen)

HOW could Cristiano Ronaldo contemplate leaving Manchester United? The climate may be kinder in Barcelona, the nightlife more varied in Madrid, but for enjoyment at the workplace there's nowhere like Old Trafford at the moment.

Sir Alex Ferguson deservedly gave Ronaldo the chance to milk applause from all four corners of the stadium by substituting him early with the game already won.

Every man, woman and child inside the Theatre of Dreams rose to acclaim the Portuguese winger, who had set up United's first three goals. He, in turn, clapped them and the manager respectfully shuffled a couple of paces forward to embrace his match-winner.

When the great Brazilian Ronaldinho hands over the baton for 'best player in the world' - probably sooner rather than later - it will be Ronaldo who takes it.

For all the effort and money that Spain's two giants can muster, United are confident he will remain at Old Trafford beyond his current 2010 contract by signing a new [pounds sterling]110,000a-week deal in the summer that would give him parity with the club's biggest earners, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney.

Sir Alex Ferguson was full of praise for his 22-year-old superstar after United's sixth Premiership win in a row left them needing just six wins from their remaining eight games to clinch the title.

Ferguson declared: 'Ronaldo has been incredible this season. It is unfair to pick one game above another. The combination play between Rooney and Ronaldo for our second goal was tremendous.

'I believe Ronaldo will be here next season, absolutely. There is bound to be speculation about him, clubs in Spain do this.

'It is unfortunate but I hope the agent allows us to negotiate.

'I'm confident that David Gill (United's chief executive) will come to the right deal. They want the boy to sign and the boy wants to sign, so it's just about the value they want to put on it.' Madrid's value on Ronaldo is [pounds sterling]45 million but that might not be enough for The Glazers. It certainly would not be enough for the Old Trafford faithful, who know Ronaldo is more responsible than anyone for threatening to end Chelsea's recent domination.

Ronaldo had a hand in all three goals - two of which were converted by Ji-sung Park - which killed the match off as a contest within 25 minutes.

Even without him, United were formidable with Rooney scoring his second before a late, soft penalty was converted by Gary Speed.

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce, whose side have lost four on the trot and will miss out on Europe if their poor run continues, was too angry with his own players to applaud United.

'It was embarrassing from our point of view. We had a goal-kick and they scored from it. We had a throw-in and they scored from it. We prepared for two weeks and didn't do the things we should have done. It's scarred us so much we will need plastic surgery!' Bolton had been outclassed 4-0 by United at The Reebok in October but with Ferguson's resources stretched for the first time this season - Edwin van der Sar, Louis Saha, Darren Fletcher, Mikael Silvestre and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were injured and Paul Scholes suspended - they felt they had a chance, particularly when Gary Neville limped out of the game with ankle trouble after nine minutes following a challenge by Speed. …

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