Cristiano Ronaldo, his replacement and the need for moving on
At first, it didn’t sink in. It wasn’t supposed to anyway. But it happened. Whatever the reason was, it happened. Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Juventus in a move that shocked almost everyone in the football fraternity.
It all began when Cristiano Ronaldo scored from an overhead kick against Juventus in Turin. The fans at the stadium gave him a standing ovation for his heroics – and it was something that warmed his heart.
It was the beginning of his end at Real Madrid. And to be fair, everything in this world has to come to an end at some point.
The guidance of a father, the love of a mother and the touch of the love of one’s life – everything has to end someday. That is the rule of nature.
And even then, it is so hard to accept this inevitability because of the attachment that comes around with relationships.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid share a great many memories. Be it the 450 celebrations from the goals that he scored for the club or the four Champions League titles, his part in the history of Real Madrid can never be overstated.
And so when the announcement of his departure was made, it shook Madridistas. It is only natural as this is a man who guarantees at least 40 goals in a season despite being in his 30s.
But it is time to move on
He is gone. He is not a Real Madrid player anymore. He is a Juventus star. He is now a rival. It doesn’t matter why or how he left. It doesn’t matter if Perez opted to sell him or that he wanted to leave.
What matters is fact. And the fact is that the Portuguese is no longer a Madrid player.
No single entity is completely replaceable nor is any void left empty – nature always finds a way to fill up the emptiness.
It is not that Real Madrid haven’t been in this kind of a position before. Right now, the Galacticos have lost their greatest goalscorer ever – but this is not the first time that it has happened.
When Real Madrid’s previous number 7 – Raul – left the club, the Blancos lost their then greatest goal-scorer.
But look, here was nature doing its work – filling up the void despite the fact that Ronaldo was never a direct replacement for Raul. No-one is. No-one can be. But Ronaldo broke Raul's record. Even Ronaldo’s greatest ardent fans didn’t expect him to break Raul’s record as quickly as he did.
There are only a couple of players in the world that can properly replace the goals of the Portugal captain. However, none of them is buyable at this point in time for Madrid.
Right now, the Merengues are most likely to sign Eden Hazard from Chelsea and give him the left-flank that was occupied by the former Manchester United star.
However, the Belgian is a far different player from Ronaldo. While the Portuguese modelled his play to become an out-and-out goalscorer, Hazard is an auxiliary forward that sets up plays for the main scorers to put the ball into the net.
There is no way that Hazard is going to give Madrid 40 or more goals in the upcoming season – but maybe the Bernabeu outfit doesn’t need that. Maybe, they now need a system where the front three or four share the scoring responsibility among themselves.
All these years, every Madrid manager crafted tactical systems that brought the most out of Cristiano Ronaldo by making him the target man in attack and helping him score as many goals as possible.
At that time, it was the right thing to do because not using the Portuguese’s scoring talents to the fullest would be waste of resources that they possessed at the time.
Now, however, Madrid can afford a complete tactical revamp without the Portuguese spearheading them in the attack. Madrid have often looked like a one-man army in attack – especially in the last two seasons – and that can change now.
Julen Lopetegui has the chance to do something that no Madrid manager had the privilege to do. Be it Manuel Pellegrini or Zinedine Zidane, every manager that the Blancos have had in the last 9 years didn’t have the opportunity to implement 100% of their own ideas at the Bernabeu.
All of them were obliged to work on ensuring that the star number 7 of the team had the best possible surroundings to play to his level-best. Right now, Juventus manager Max Allegri will also face a similar challenge at Turin as he will now have to carve out a system that brings the best out of the greatest European player of all time while also ensuring that the defensive stability of the team is not negated in the process.
Lopetegui, however, won’t have to be concerned about only a single player performing at his best. Even the reportedly incoming Eden Hazard loves to go back and help the defence out.
Also, Gareth Bale has learned the art of putting in a shift as he has had to do it while playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
Maybe, replacing Cristiano Ronaldo is not what Madrid want to do anyway. They have the chance to start from the scratch and build a team where everyone performs at an optimum level – and they perhaps prefer doing that.
Julen Lopetegui’s Spain played some really crispy and positive football in a very systematic way and as a team. He now can do the same at Madrid – and that, too, without Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese’s loss can never be overcome but that is not what Madrid are looking to do anyway. They are trying to move on from Ronaldo by entirely recreating themselves from scratch.
And every Madrid fan should try to move on, too.