Alex Ferguson thinks it won't be long before Cristiano Ronaldo will be recognized as the world's best player. Carlos Queiroz says he will...
LONDON — Alex Ferguson thinks it won’t be long before Cristiano Ronaldo will be recognized as the world’s best player. Carlos Queiroz says he will be soccer’s equivalent of Michael Jordan.
As Ronaldo’s manager and chief coach at Manchester United, it’s easy for them to lavish the Portuguese star with praise.
But the rest of us are waiting to see Ronaldo produce something special in a game that means something. In the two legs of a Champions League semifinal against AC Milan, in Portugal’s World Cup semifinal match against France and even last season’s FA Cup final against Chelsea, Ronaldo failed to come up big.
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AC Milan’s Kaka and Barcelona’s Ronaldinho have something Ronaldo doesn’t: Champions League winners medals. They triumphed in the finals of European soccer’s most prestigious club competition with Milan and Barcelona, and Lionel Messi of Barcelona would have collected one, too, if he had been fit for the 2006 final. Ronaldo’s club hasn’t won it since 1999 and hasn’t made it past the semifinal stage since then.
Ronaldo scored one of his trademark long-range strikes and coolly stroked home a penalty in United’s 2-1 victory over Everton on Sunday, which kept the Red Devils within a point of Arsenal in the Premier League race.
“The boy has got everything,” said Ferguson, who seems to have persuaded Ronaldo to do fewer of his extravagant stepovers and concentrate on passing or shooting. “We are expecting goals from him all the time, and I don’t think he ever made a mistake today. He was absolutely perfect, a marvelous performance by him.”
Before the game, Queiroz was purring about his countryman.
“During my career, I have worked with some of the world’s finest players … Yet, I can honestly say I have never seen such a football creation like Cristiano Ronaldo,” Queiroz said.
He added, “Cristiano will not only become the biggest sporting attraction in England, but also in Europe and the rest of the world,” Queiroz said. “He will be a world star in football like Michael Jordan was in basketball. … They have both been blessed with a genius that has never been seen before.”
Ronaldo is a handful for most of the defenses he faces and Everton coach David Moyes, whose team had gone 11 victories and two draws in its previous 13 games before Sunday’s visit to Old Trafford, admitted the 22-year-old United star always came up with something extra.
“It is very difficult to say how you stop Ronaldo,” Moyes said. “In general play we did quite well today, but he just has these moments. You always think you can do better, that you can get closer and tighter. But sometimes, when you are tight, he is good enough to get away.”
Ronaldo unlocked Everton’s well-organized defense at Old Trafford.
Imagine how he would have fared in Sunday’s Milan derby or Spanish soccer’s classic matchup between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Kaka was on the losing side as Inter Milan edged AC Milan 2-1 at San Siro; Barcelona, with Messi sidelined by an injury and Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry struggling for form and fitness, lost 1-0 at home to Madrid.