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Marcotti: Platini's missed opportunity

FIFA 13 hours ago
Read
Feb 26, 2010

The two Ronnies

This was the week in which Rafael Benitez suffered a real grilling in Bucharest, one Ronaldo had a statue erected in his honour while the other announced his retirement and Roberto Mancini was booed by the press pack.

Ronaldo's success set in stone

Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid to a 6-2 thrashing of Villarreal on Sunday and by midweek a ten-metre statue of the Portuguese peacock adorned the historic Plaza de Ramales in Spain's capital city.

Okay, so the overpowering structure had been erected for an advertisement campaign, but it's surely only a matter of time before the Madrid-loving media start a campaign for a real one. You can see pictures of the tribute to the waxed wonder in Marca.

The real praise for Real's destruction of the Yellow Submarine should have gone to under-pressure manager Manuel Pellegrini, but the Chilean coach remains inexplicably unpopular.

However, it's only fair to point out that, while Ronaldo takes the headlines, Pellegrini has presided over the best Real Madrid team for 15 years - scoring more and conceding fewer goals than a decade-and-a-half worth of predecessors.

Ronaldo to hang up boots

Whilst one Ronaldo continued his meteoric rise, the other one, who we'll respectfully differentiate with the prefix 'original', rather than 'fat' (oops!), announced this week the he will hang up his boots at the end of 2011.

It's easy to forget that when a spindly Cristiano was first unleashed on the Premier League in 2003 he was greeted with chants of "you're not the real Ronaldo"; such was the legacy of Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, arguably the best player of his generation.

The former Real Madrid star, who will finish his career with Corinthians, won the World Cup on two occasions (1994 and 2002), finished the tournament in Korea/Japan with the Golden Boot and also broke Gerd Muller's goalscoring record at the World Cup, by netting his 15th.

And the 33-year-old former Inter striker, who has won trophies wherever he has played, still harbours slightly deluded hopes of making Dunga's squad for the 2010 finals. "I still have a chance of going," he said.

With one Ronaldo on the up and one on the way down it will be interesting to see which one eventually leaves the greater legacy.

Mancini introduced to boo-boys

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini received an unofficial welcome to the Premier League this week when a room full of journalists booed him during a post-match press conference.

Following Manchester City's thoroughly turgid 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Eastlands the Italian manager was asked whether he was disappointed by the booing by the fans at the final whistle. Not fully understanding the word, Mancini inquired: "Booing?" A room full of journalists helped him out with a demonstration.

Mancini smiled at that little exchange, but the grin was wiped from his face a few days later when Manchester City crashed out of the FA Cup following a 3-1 defeat to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. This time it was the Stoke fans that were full of smiles as they serenaded Mancini with a chorus of "you're getting sacked in the morning."

Mancini's sacking might not be that imminent, but with City out of the only competition they had a realistic chance of winning, and securing just two victories in their past eight games, he's in serious danger of being given the boot in the summer.

Fergie sticks boot in on flashy stars

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson took a stand against brightly coloured football boots this week and banned his youngsters from wearing anything other than the old-school black ones.

Following a poor run of form that saw United's juniors lose to arch-rivals Liverpool and crash out the FA Youth Cup against Blackburn, Ferguson banned the flashy footwear.

"They are told they have to stick to wearing black," explained United defender John O'Shea. "Once in the reserve or first-team squad there are no restrictions, but if you are wearing flashy colours and don't play too well you're likely to get singled out."

Ferguson is the first Premier League manager to take a stand against the rainbow-array of boots, but earlier this month QPR youth-team coach Marc Bircham banned them to stop his players from "getting too flash".

Fatter Benitez?

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez may soon be joining his players in the gym after a grilling by the Romanian media in Bucharest ended with a bizarre conversation about the Spaniard's weight.

Following a typically diplomatic performance in which the Liverpool boss refused to be baited by questions about alleged disrespect for Europa League opponents Unirea Urziceni and sack-related chants from the stands, one journo decided to deliver a body blow.

"Mr Benitez," the Romanian reporter said. "The last time I saw you was at the 2005 Champions' League final, and your, erm, silhouette seems to have changed since then. Why is that?"

Breaking into a grin, Benitez replied: "It is the stress of having to answer so many questions from the press. Thank you and goodnight."

VT of the week

At the risk of inadvertently turning this into 'Robinho watch' (it's his third appearance on this page in three weeks) it was impossible not to include this clip of his goal against Bragantino.

Yes it's a silky smooth chip over the goalkeeper, but is it really a "Gol de Pele!" as the increasingly excitable commentator repeatedly declares?

It seem that after just four games back in Brazil the rejuvenated Manchester City flop once again being likened to one of the biggest legends in the game. City fans, close your eyes and ears.

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