The year was 2005. One man ruled the football pitch. What his brain thought, his feet did. And whatever his feet wanted to do, the ball did. There was no-one more skillful, no-one more dangerous. Crowds flocked to see him. Fans adored him. Authorities honored him.
He possessed pace, strength and amazing skills. His tricks were like circus performances – almost unbelievable! Ronaldinho has fallen off his perch quite drastically. At one stage Barcelona’s crown jewel, now fighting to reignite his career at AC Milan, Ronnie is a shadow of his past self. But the Ballon d’Or winner left us with one of the most memorable images in football. We call it ‘the feint’. At his best, defenders were left dazed and bewildered by his trickery. This one always got the best of them. A look to the right… then a quick dink of the ball to the left. He had us all looking one way and only once we had committed… would send the game the other.
Ronaldinho could be past his best but there is someone else who may just have employed this trick… and we could all have fallen for it again!
Sir Alex isn’t playing football anymore (and even if he was, I doubt he would have been able to pull such a trick off). He does however play another game better than pretty much everyone else.
Everyone wrote off Manchester United’s chances without Cristiano Ronaldo. Even more was said about who would replace the ‘irreplaceable’ Portuguese star.
Enter Sir Alex with a little feint…
There was not a lot of activity in the United boardroom. Players were being tipped to join from all corners of the globe. Ribery was coming, Silva was on his way, Robben was in a swap deal…
In the end, three men arrived at Old Trafford. Two of them were met with a little surprise. Michael Owen still has goal scoring ability and was a clever piece of business. Antonio Valencia has been a long term target for Fergie and his arrival was no surprise. Gabriel Obertan was a real surprise to everyone!
Many presumed that Valencia was there to ‘replace’ Ronaldo. In theory that is what he has done. The ex Wigan man has slotted in on the right and has produced some pretty impressive performances. He isn’t as flashy as CR7 but he does get the job done.
I think we are all looking right but Sir Alex is about to pull trick on us and produce from the left… Gabriel Obertan!
The young Bordeaux player had attended the famed Clairefontaine football academy where players such as Henry, Anelka and Saha had refined their skills. His arrival at Bordeaux was met with great excitement! Limited however to sub appearances, he was eventually loaned out to Lorient. Obertan seemed to have been a player with great promise that didn’t ever reach his full potential. A U21 friendly against England helped him catch the eye of the Old Trafford boss and Obertan was soon a Red.
Ferguson has said that Valencia wasn’t brought in to replace Ronaldo. I think he is telling the truth. While we all stare down at Antonio and crit his every move, Gabbi gets stronger and stronger while recovering from a back injury. Having made a reserves appearance and now his senior debut in the Carling Cup, it doesn’t seem that it will be long until we see him in the Premier League.
Watch some youtube clips and you will see that this boy has blistering pace, silky skills, amazing tricks, great strength and goal scoring ability. Sound a bit like a certain Ronaldo?
Owen was handed the number 7 shirt by Sir Alex but I think that the long term successor of the iconic number will be the young Frenchman.
We could all have been looking right – Owen, Valencia.
But Fergie may just be getting ready to play his best card while we aren’t looking – Gabrial Obertan.
We all looked right. He appeared from the left.