"We found for him a fantastic tactical situation to express his full potential and to express that in goals." The words of Jose Mourinho, via football-espana, speaking about Cristiano Ronaldo after he had confirmed he was leaving the Real Madrid hot seat.
The implication from the Portuguese coach was clear—his tactics had allowed Ronaldo to continue to hit the back of the net at a ratio of more than once every match.
With the baton now handed to Carlo Ancelotti, questions are beginning to emerge regarding how the Italian may choose to implement the 28-year-old and, as he begins his reign in the Spanish capital, he's already expressed his excitement at linking up with Madrid's No. 7, via Sky Sports:
My opinion is easy, Ronaldo is a fantastic, marvellous player. It's an honour to coach a player like Ronaldo like it was to coach Zinedine Zidane. He wasn't on the list of players like Brazilian Ronaldo, Zidane and Ronaldinho that I coached. He will be on the list of players I coached now and I am so happy for that.
But Ancelotti, who in theory may outlast the Portuguese forward at the club, does have one problem when it comes to deciding how best to use Ronaldo.
Rumors persist, contracts remain unsigned, and the player's future generally remains shrouded in smoke. An emotional return to Manchester United, according to The Independent, or one last big bucks move to French football, reported by The Guardian, are never far from the sports pages of any paper, and Ancelotti will need to be careful about putting too much impetus on a player who could ditch the club within the next year.
Ronaldo will once again be the club's star this season, but allowing their reliance on him to lessen wouldn't be a bad thing.
Presuming Madrid partake in no more attacking activity in this transfer window—quite the presumption—Ronaldo's role could, at times, be shifted to a more central position. On plenty of occasions, Isco took up the left side of Malaga's triumvirate, while the classy Mesut Ozil is the natural choice to feature as Madrid's No. 10 and Angel di Maria, if he stays, is among the best in Europe on the right side when he performs.
That could leave Ronaldo as an option as a No. 9 if Ancelotti struggles to get the best out of Karim Benzema—although his assistant, Zidane, remains convinced of the French forward's talent according to Marca.
More likely to happen though is that the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," will come into play. Ronaldo's feats on Madrid's left have been nothing short of remarkable, and would have been unthinkable a decade ago when strikers hitting 20 a season were considered special.
It's true that while Ronaldo's future remains uncertain, Ancelotti needs to keep one eye on the future. Unfortunately, it's also true that Ronaldo is too good and too important to the team for the Italian coach to tinker with him too much.