Thursday, March 20, 2008

Meet Your "New" Football Overlords

"The more things change, the more they stay the same," "What was old is new again," and probably a million other tired cliches describe two cause celebs who you, our fair reader, might know by name: David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. What do these two have in common, other than poncy good looks? They are the two most recognizable faces of English football, even though one currently plays in the MLS and the other happens to be Portugese.

This was a good week for Becks and Ronaldo. Beckham was invited to earn his 100th English cap (I was right!). The not-fat Ronaldo broke George Best's scoring record while, baring the proverbial unthinkable collapse, looks set to earn Player of the Year. (As an aside, the past month has confirmed what I've felt all season, that Man U and not Arsenal has the depth to win the Premiership. It has felt inevitable, like a long-simmering indigestion that has now turned into a full-blown ennui.)

So, we have the aging Beckham, who admittedly hasn’t played a meaningful game of football in 87 months, about to play a meaningless friendly, get his 100th cap, give Capello a bit of good press, and then fade back into the woodwork of southern Californian obscurity. As Lingering Bursitis said, "the idea of Beckham wearing the 3 Lions again makes me nauseous."

And then there is Cristiano Ronaldo, who this week somehow managed to break down Bolton's defense (didn't see that one coming, huh?), bested George Best's scoring record with his 32 and 33rd goals, earned yet more Demento accolades as being the greatest player ever, oh and don't forget that he's only 23 years old. As the NY Kid said, "Ronaldo is a fucking sunty useless twat cuntbag."

What is it about top players who, in the prime of their careers earn such deserved scorn, and then in the twilight of their careers earn such deserved glee? Maybe it is that the Beckhams and Ronaldos are always the lodestars for sport, just as Jordan was for the NBA in the 1990s, Brady was for the NFL in the 2000s, etc. etc. The thing that these players have in common is, at bottom, they are incredibly uninteresting people whose only talent is on the pitch or on the court or on the field. We look forward to the day that their skills fade because we know that such decline is inevitable and that, while opposing teams are helpless to stop such players, than time surely will.

Although, sometimes it isn't time but hubris that can lead to a player's downfall. In other words, it isn't time but rather lack of motivation or lack of focus that brings down top players. It is hard to say that about either Beckham or Ronaldo.

For all his talent, both in playing football and in marketing, Beckham really was never a dominate player on the pitch, but rather the consummate big play player (unless that big play was getting a red card in the World Cup).

Ronaldo is dissimilar because, begrudgingly, at the moment he is playing football at a different level than the rest of the world. Unless he suffers a major injury, it will be at least a decade before Ronaldo enters into the sort of decline that Beckham now finds himself. That leaves us with a lot of suffering in the meantime. Oh, and that suffering includes Man U fans when Ronaldo decides to leave chilly Manchester for the warmer climate of the Iberian Peninsula.

1 comment:

The NY Kid said...

Why would Ronaldo want to play for Sporting Lisbon?