"You can argue as much a you like Miles but Ronaldo will never ever be a Man Utd legend!"
This was the scathing and agitated response I got from a mate who happens to be a Manchester United fan through and through. As a modest Charlton Athletic supporter it beggared belief that this thought could be the consensus amongst Reds fans, so here beings the investigation.
Firstly I refuse to patronize the footballing masses by trawling through the various achievements, trophies and accolades amassed by Cristiano Ronaldo under Sir Alex Ferguson.
What is fact is that the right winger scored 118 goals in 292 appearances and what is obvious is that he was United's most influential and important player, as well as being certified as officially the best player on the planet at the peak of his United career.
For a midfielder his scoring record was exceptional and his goals per game ratio eclipses that of any other midfielder let alone right winger to have ever played for Manchester Untied. A prolific dead ball specialist, an accomplished dribbler, a deft finisher from range, a predator in the box and in the air he scored all types of goals and in important matches too.
He netted several crucial goals in Premier League matches in three seasons of dominance for the north east team including goals in an FA Cup Final, a League Cup final and a Champions League final to boot. The talisman also topped the assists charts setting up his team mates as often as he found the back of the net himself.
The exclusive group of players that go down in folklore at Manchester United are never disputed and this is probably why Ronaldo rouses so much debate in this field. Many fans feel he treated the club that made him with disrespect by openly pursuing his dream move to Real Madrid in what would turn out to be a world record breaking £80 million fee.
Others point to some of his on field antics as a reason he may not be appreciated as much as he should be. Everyone bar opposing defenders enjoys the silky skills of the Portuguese superstar, playing his game with a cocky arrogance which in fact is an undeterred belief and confidence in himself to be the best he can possibly be.
But when things were not going so well United fans were exposed to a different Ronaldo. Diving to win free kicks or going down too easily, arguing with officials, sulking and moaning, choking when he needed his composure the most.
In the eyes of some United fans that alone restricts him from sitting side by side with the greats to have pulled on the red shirt but to me it washes as a senseless and weak argument typical of the modern football fans selective memory bank.
His ability is unquestionable but it's when you throw the likes of Bobby Chalrton, Mark Hughes, Roy Keane or George Best into the mixer that the debate intensifies. An 11 year old United fan would not try to pretend that Eric Cantona or Denis Law are they're favourite players to have donned their teams colours. So there is a great number that would feel Ronaldo would probably be the best player they have ever seen in United colours.
But for a 60 year old veteran supporter, opinion would surely differ. But that insight into the understanding of the clubs history should not distort the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo is amongst some of the best players to have played for that club in decades.
Manchester United's most prolific goal scorer Ruud Van Nistelrooy will be held in the highest esteem at Old Trafford even though he left the club on sour terms. The same should apply to Ronaldo. Ironically Both players scored for Real Madrid in yesterday's emphatic 5-0 drubbing of newly promoted Xerez and that's not the only thing they have in common.
Both players were the crucial linchpins in different United sides and were absolutely central to the success of the team at the time they played. And both left the club at times when they clearly had a lot more to give.
Cristiano Ronaldo will no doubt excel to even further heights in the Spanish capital as he is yet to hit his peak and his staggering individual performances continue to be backed with unquestionable stats for Madrid which already speak confidently for themselves.
After much thought I have come to the conclusion that only a bitter and stubborn United fan would deny Cristiano Ronaldo legendary status at Manchester United. Maybe through a reluctance to induct new generations of players into that list of past time greats, or an attempt to preserve a very specific nature or style of players that are called legends at a club which has such a prestigious history.
What is fact is that Cristiano Ronaldo's record is equal or better than some of the names that already occupy that list at Manchester United. Once more the debate is centered around that perception of a word that is unfortunately used too frequently in football today.
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