Saturday, 2 November 2013

Ronaldo’s briefs encounter shows English football in pants

m_Ronaldo’s briefs encounter shows English football in pants

Ronaldo dressed only in underpants

Nobody could accuse Cristiano Ronaldo of being shy. This week, the world’s highest paid footballer unveiled a 19 meter tall poster of himself in the middle of Madrid.

In the full length photo, he is dressed only in underpants. Judging by the smirk he was wearing as he tugged back the cover of the picture, Ronaldo is pretty pleased with the way this advertisement for his new brand of under garments turned out. Frankly, he looked on the point of proposing to himself.

It is basic in its conception, his advertising campaign. It is just a picture of him, naked but for his under-crackers. Which, with characteristic modesty, carry the brand name CR7.

In the shot, he appears in the peak of athletic shape, his body a perfect V, sculpted in a manner generally only seen on super heroes. And porn stars.

Interestingly, Ronaldo appears to be the person most impressed by the new advertisement. Unlike David Beckham, his predecessor as Manchester United’s number seven, the appearance of him semi naked in a public place does not seem to induce heart-stopping excitement among the female population.

When Beckham pulled off a similar stunt in the middle of Times Square, there was not a woman in New York who saw it who did not find herself in need of a quick sit down.

Women who were canvassed their opinions about Ronaldo’s picture this week, however, expressed the general view that, yeah, he looked OK, but he was not for them.

The consensus was that he looked the sort of guy who would require a partner to take second place to his shaving mirror. And judging by the poster, he does a lot of shaving.

Whatever the scale of the player’s narcissism, there is one intriguing thing about Ronaldo’s poster unveiling: it did not take place in London. Or Manchester.

Or Liverpool. The Premier League likes to pride itself on being the world’s favourite footballing competition, but while its self–regard is almost on a par with Ronaldo’s, the facts about where the world’s best players prefer to ply their trade would suggest otherwise. The Ballon d’Or longlist announced recently, for instance, was not one with an emphasis on the Premier League.

The competition for the world’s best player may not be another scrap between Madrid’s Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi – Franck Ribery is presently a very narrow favourite with the bookies to unseat the big two.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fourth favourite, while the extraordinary Philipp Lahm, extravagantly praised by Pep Guardiola for his versatility and enjoying the most fruitful period in his career, is unquestionably a worthy candidate.

But even if the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly is broken, the fact remains that Ribery and Lahm play in the Bundesliga. Ibrahimovic’s super-sized ability and ego grace Ligue 1 with their mercurial presence.

Despite the unchanging self-congratulatory script of the television commentators, the geographical locations of the Ballon d’Or contenders’ workplace suggests the world’s best are not playing in the English top division.

 Sure, there are some very good players here – Ozil, Van Persie, Suarez, Aguero – but they are the guys filling the lower reaches of the world top twenty. The truth is the big posters – plus the big poseurs – see their ambitions as more likely to be fulfilled by plying their trade elsewhere.

 It is a disparity underscored by the only Briton on the long list. Gareth Bale, like Ronaldo, moved from a Premier League club, explaining as he did so that he signed for Madrid because he had wanted to wear one of their shirts since he was a small boy. The dream pulls ever south.

 This season, however, a hint of how the inbalance may be adjusted in the favour of the English set up is beginning to emerge. Jose Mourinho talked about it when he returned to Chelsea in the summer. He insisted that Financial Fair Play regulations, coupled with a lifting of youth recruitment restrictions, will see the big English clubs adopting new tactics in the transfer market in the future.

 Instead of concentrating on spending big money buying talent fully formed, they will far more often buy up youngsters from across the world who they can develop in their academies. The future is there in the shape of Januzaj, De Bruyne and Lukaku.

 Maybe not the next generation of Ballon d’Or winners themselves, but indicative of how the Premier League will soon be seeking to employ the world’s best from a young age. And not all of them will eventually be picked off by Barcelona and Madrid. Some will inevitably stay.

 It’s a thought. If Mourinho’s hunch is right it opens up the intriguing possibility that the long list will be dominated in future by the denizens of the Premier League. Though whether the skyline of London will be radically improved by giant posters of superstar players in their underwear is yet to be seen.


Ronaldo’s briefs encounter shows English football in pants


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