Do You Remember when the real Ronaldo joined Man Utd?

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Glory days
‘IN Rio Ferdinand’s heyday, football’s top names wanted to sign for Manchester United,’ begins Neil Ashton’s piece in The Sun.

Sorry to stop you so quickly but that’s bollocks; English clubs have never signed ‘football’s top names’.

For example, Ferdinand joined Manchester United in 2002. At the end of that year, the Ballon d’Or top ten featured Ronaldo (the original), Roberto Carlos, Oliver Kahn, Zinedine Zidane, Michael Ballack, Thierry Henry, Raul, Rivaldo, Yildiray Basturk and Alessandro Del Piero. Not one of those ten people joined Manchester United, or even ‘wanted to to sign for Manchester United’. Indeed, the man at No. 12 on that list – Ronaldinho – had very publicly turned down Manchester United for PSG the year before.

But carry on, Neil…

‘Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Jaap Stam and Ruud van Nistelrooy were drawn to the Theatre of Dreams.’

Ah. What you have done there is name players who became football’s top names while at Manchester United.

Let’s take them one by one.

Wayne Rooney: Signed for Manchester United from Everton at the age of 18. Their biggest competition for his signature were Newcastle United.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Signed for Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon at the age of 18. His £12m signing was widely described as an ‘expensive gamble’ as he was yet to play for Portugal.

Carlos Tevez: Signed for Manchester United on an expensive extended two-year loan deal after a spell at West Ham. He then joined Manchester City at the end of that two-year loan.

Jaap Stam: Signed for Manchester United from PSV Eindhoven in 1998, having not received a single vote in the 1997 Ballon d’Or. Oh and he had left Manchester United by the time Rio Ferdinand and his ‘heyday’ arrived.

Ruud van Nistelrooy: Signed for Manchester United from PSV Eindhoven after a two-goal season destroyed by injury.

If, ‘in Rio Ferdinand’s heyday, football’s top names wanted to sign for Manchester United’, they must have been very p***ed off that Manchester United were signing and then improving promising young footballers instead.

Spare a thought for poor (original) Ronaldo, who had to join Real Madrid despite desperately wanting to play alongside John O’Shea and Nicky Butt.