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19th Jun 2018

World Cup Shorts: What if Ronaldo is getting better as he gets worse?

Nooruddean Choudry


Everyone has an opinion on Cristiano Ronaldo. As the great man once said (of himself) in strangely beautiful twisted English: “Why when Cristiano is involved is it always polemic?”

He is now at a stage in his career when the narrative (sorry) is more craggy than mere wall-to-wall praise. He is ageing, and therefore changing as a footballer. And we’re all here to see how it plays out.

With Messi (we’re talking about Ronaldo so of course Messi comes up – it’s the law), it was always more obvious how things would go. As his dancing feet slowed, his magical playmaking would come to the fore.

The assumption with Ronaldo was that his decline would be much steeper, due to his own particular prowess owing so much to physical magnificence. Once that waned, so would he. But it’s not quite that simple.

What Ronaldo has shown – and continues to show in this World Cup – is that he may well be getting better as he gets worse. If anything, he is cementing his case for greatness with ageing limbs and sharpened focus.

There are parts of his game that have dropped off and dulled. He doesn’t do all of what he used to. But he is now reaching a new level of ascension by way of talismanic leadership and sheer bloody-mindedness.

We jest about him doing nowt in a game and then scoring an injury-time winner. We mock his touchline remonstrations, as if he’s playing at being the manager. But he is always forcing the issue. He is literally willing glory.

There’s a strange power that Ronaldo sources from his ego these days. He has managed to turn vanity into a fuel. Whereas once he was the next George Best, he has morphed in some kind of Roy Keane-ified Van Basten on Rasta Monsta. Less goat, more holy cow.


Mark Lawrenson is a bit like Marmite, in that it’s a bit yeasty and you’ll often wonder what it’s doing there in the further reaches of your cupboard. One thing he doesn’t share with the Guinness-shit looking paste is its divisive nature.

A quick look on social media whenever he’s on duty as BBC co-commentator shows the near unanimous verdict: Lawro should give it a rest and fuck off if he hates football so much. Indeed he does often sound like he’s working under duress.

Maybe it’s a little jarring in the first week of World Cup – when everyone’s so giddy at three games a day – to have Droopy Dour-Tits bringing everyone down with his constant moaning and utter contempt for everyone on the pitch.

But perhaps it’s time to stop worrying and learn to love the Lawro. In this modern age of nu-football sensationalism, when each and every game on Sky is an alliterative explosion of hollow hyperbole, here we have a one-man antidote.

You may mock him as a footballing dinosaur, but there’s an integrity about him. He’s not like some of these try-hard gobby twats who just shout out nonsense to make themselves known. He is who he is, and that’s an unashamed mardarse.

Lawrenson doesn’t really hate football, he just loves a moan. And he understands that our national obsession is far more ‘For Fuck’s Sake’ than ‘Super Sunday’. Give me real and honest misery over fake ‘footie’ enthusiasm any day of the week.


You secretly love VAR. Stop pretending to impress your mates.