5 New Year's Resolutions for Cristiano Ronaldo
Give up smoking. Swap the McDonald's Arch card in your wallet for the gym membership that never got out of its plastic wrapping. Save a bit of cash for the financial apocalypse...21-12-12 is more likely to be the number of steps the global economy takes backwards before the next Mayan era-ending prediction rolls around.
It's that time of year again. But what on our still very-intact earth do footballers mutter to themselves on December 31? In Spain they've still got a week off and are hardly as attentive to the El Nino holiday lottery on January 6 as the rest of the country.
Much like Sean Penn's dilemma in The Game: what do you buy the man who has everything? Answer, as Michael Douglas discovered: best not to bother trying.
Cristiano Ronaldo might wish for a less "sad" year in 2013 than he enjoyed over the past 12 months. Here are five things he could do to spread a little happiness.
Free Up the Free Kicks
So far this season Ronaldo has scored 14 goals in the league, six in six Champions League matches, a bacon-saving late strike against Celta in the cup and bagged two in the Supercup triumph over Barcelona.
Against Espanyol he knocked one in a 2-2 tie and he scored both to earn a point against Barcelona in October.
More often than not, Ronaldo comes to his side's rescue when he is needed most, as against Levante in the league last month when he filled in as striker in the absence of Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema. There is no doubting the Portugal captain's dedication to the cause.
If there is one criticism that could be leveled at Ronaldo is it that he often tries to do it all on his own. Sometimes this is a good trait, sometimes it is detrimental to the team as a whole. Free kicks are an example.
Before scoring against Atletico earlier this month, Ronaldo hadn't found the net since April from a dead ball situation for Real.
Mesut Ozil performed his own rescue job for the side against both Borussia Dortmund and Valladolid. Real also possesses players that can swing in a decent cross.
Perhaps Ronaldo should consider mixing up free kick duties a bit. Sergio Ramos has scored an equal amount from that channel this season.
After Real was eliminated from the Champions League semifinal by Bayern Munich in the Bernabeu, Ronaldo stalked off down the tunnel without acknowledging the home fans or joining his teammates in congratulating the opposition.
True, Ronaldo must have been kicking himself after missing in the shootout having scored twice in normal time.
Forget phantom goals (Liverpool vs. Chelsea) and collective team implosions (Dynamo vs. Bayern in 1999); with no control over the outcome, the shootout is the worst way to be denied your moment on the big stage. But Ronaldo has plenty of those to come, notably against Manchester United.
Play for the team, win with the team, lose with the team.
Although in fairness Jose Mourinho skulked down the tunnel even before Ronaldo.
Lead by example and all that...
Celebrate Good Times
In the likely event that Ronaldo doesn’t win the FIFA Ballon d’Or, he could consider taking it with a bit of good grace. The thunderous look on his face when Andres Iniesta carried off the European Player of the Year award was instantly beamed around the world.
These awards are largely irrelevant in today’s game. Most players agree they would happily swap individual honors for team titles. Leo Messi has a copy-paste award speech, where he dedicates each prize to the team. When he, Iniesta and Xavi were up for the FIFA gong, there were smiles all round.
They are voted for by sports journalists, team captains and coaches. It’s ridiculous to think personal feeling doesn’t enter into the decision at all.
Ronaldo earns more in a week than most people will in a decade. He has a supermodel girlfriend. He drives a Ferrari, and I suspect that is not his only car.
Everybody knows he is a fantastic player and personal honors don’t really reflect reality anyway. Ask yourself how many defenders and goalkeepers have carted off the Ballon d’Or.
He could cheer up a bit.
Celebrate in General
What is with that "calm down, calm down" goal celebration? Is Ronaldo a fan of Harry Enfield's Scousers?
Whatever happened to the joy of scoring a goal? Earlier in the season, during his “sad” phase, he didn’t celebrate at all. Sometimes he uses that awful “claws bared” thing. He’s the winker. Not the Tiger.
Jurgen Klinsmann played on his reputation as a diver. Ian Wright had a chuckle with the Paolo di Canio referee incident. Even Leo “thanks chaps, couldn’t possibly do it without you” had a Temuri Ketsbaia moment against Real in the Champions League semifinals.
They’ve all got a bit of time on their hands during the winter break. Personally, I think Real would win some neutrals over if they tried something like this.
Man of the People?
On the field, Ronaldo polarizes opinion like no other player in the modern game. Off it, few people have a real idea of what he is like. That’s largely because he doesn’t give out many interviews.
Messi, on the other hand, seems to be universally admired on the field, and equally admired off it. But the mirror of public opinion doesn’t always necessarily reflect the truth.
Ronaldo, by all accounts, is more thoughtful and articulate than most players.
Who can really say what footballers are like as people? Do we, the public really care, as long as we are entertained?
With the scrutiny of media ever more acute and the amount of interest generated by the world’s two finest attacking players seemingly insatiable, why not use both to his advantage?