Monday, November 29, 2021
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Why Cristiano Ronaldo is a Real Madrid Failure

Disappointed Cristiano Ronaldo (via's start with the elephant in the room, and immediately address the incredible goal-scoring record of Ronaldo at Real Madrid. I scoured various sources for the official statistics and found it difficult to find 2 exact matches, but the eventual consensus was that in 344 appearances, Ronaldo has scored 360 goals! Needless to say this is a phenomenal record, one that puts him above any other player in the history of the club, and you have to imagine that without him in the team, Los Merengues would never have matched that volume of goals over the last 7 years. Yet despite this achievement, I think it's fair to say that, so far, Ronaldo's time at Real Madrid has been a failure.

So, bearing in mind the great individual success that Ronaldo has delivered, how can I possibly justify my argument? Well it's actually quite straight-forward. Ronaldo moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, and since then these are the trophies won by his team:

La Liga: 2011–12
Copa del Rey: 2010–11, 2013–14
Supercopa de España: 2012
UEFA Champions League: 2013–14
UEFA Super Cup: 2014
FIFA Club World Cup: 2014

Not including what may come this season, that amounts to 7 honours in 6 seasons. A decent showing by the standards of most clubs, but Real Madrid are not most clubs.

Look at the list more closely, and you'll see that when it comes to what is actually classed as a major honour, there are only 4 in 6 seasons. Put simply, Ronaldo was purchased to cement Real Madrid as the dominant club in Spain and then Europe, but despite the outlay and goals, they've managed to win 1 league title, 1 Champions League and 2 Copa del Reys in 6 years.

If we examine their 2 main rivals, and their respective honours lists since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid, it makes for uncomfortable reading.


La Liga: 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15
Copa del Rey: 2011–12, 2014–15
Supercopa de España: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
UEFA Champions League: 2010–11, 2014–15
UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015
FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015

Atlético Madrid:

La Liga: 2013–14
Copa del Rey: 2012–13
Supercopa de España: 2014
UEFA Europa League: 2009-10 2011-12
UEFA Super Cup: 2010, 2012

When you take into account the 2 Europa Leagues won by Atlético, and how they were 1 minute away from defeating Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final. It's fair to say that during Ronaldo's time in Spain, Los Merengues have been much closer to being the 3rd best team rather than the top one.

Of course I'm not suggesting that any of this is solely the fault of Ronaldo. As said earlier, it would be mightily unfair to ignore the countless goals and the numerous examples of when they've saved Real Madrid. We only need to look back a couple of weeks ago to the Champions League 1/4 final comeback against Wolfsburg, when a Ronaldo hat-trick in the 2nd leg secured a 3-2 aggregate win.

However, in recent seasons there have been occasions when Real Madrid fans have directed their ire at the Portuguese, and on others it has been suggested that he dominates the play so much at Real Madrid, that it can be to the detriment of the team.

This point is a difficult one to determine, and I remember that when Thierry Henry left Arsenal, the same argument was used to justify his departure. Still, I don't really buy it for either player. Both are (or were) clear winners, with a focus on getting their team to meet their own high standards, so it should be no surprise if that drive occasionally rubbed a team-mate up the wrong way. Ultimately the star players in a team are the ones that push you on to the next level, if and when they have a negative impact is usually down to off the field matters, or their powers waning (Roy Keane for example).

But how will Ronaldo and his Real Madrid career be judged? Well, if they were to go on and win the Champions League again this season or, less likely, La Liga, that would begin to go some way towards weakening my argument. Then again, even if both were achieved, I'd suggest that more major silverware would have to be secured before Ronaldo eventually departs.

That being said, sometimes in football we focus a bit too much on individual achievements, and I can see Ronaldo being forever lauded as a result of his goal-scoring record and the 2 FIFA Ballons d'Or he's secured whilst in Spain. In my opinion that would be a mistake. Yes Ronaldo is one of the two best players in the World, yes he is a goal machine, but what it should all come down to is how his team did whilst he was stamping his influence upon it.

It's a difficult comparison, but if you take Diego Maradona and what he achieved in his time at Napoli, that's a good barometer. The season before he joined the club (1983-84), they finished 1 point above relegation. In Maradona's 3rd season, Napoli won the first Serie A title in their history, this was followed by their 1st Uefa Cup in 1988-89 and a 2nd Serie A in 1989-90. Neither honour has been added to since the Argentine left.

As things stand, Ronaldo and his time at Real Madrid must be considered a failure. I'm pretty confident that when the club hierarchy paid £80M for him almost 7 years ago, they would have expected a windfall in merchandise sales and for their team to have usurped Barcelona. Florentino Pérez may be scared to say it out loud, but the winning of one solitary league title must leave the club wondering if it was all worth it. If I'm incorrect about that, then Real Madrid really do have the wrong priorities..

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