Of Thursday’s announcement Real Madrid transfer target Christiano Ronaldo would return to Old Trafford for the 2008-09 season, the Guardian’s Barry Glendenning compares newsroom reactions to “those scenes near the end of movies like Armageddon and Apollo 13 where lots of caffeine-fuelled, sweaty, bespectacled, middle-aged men in mission control cheer raucously and hug when it becomes apparent that the stricken spaceship has, against all odds, successfully re-entered the earth’s atmosphere.” Had Ronaldo taken his silky skills elsewhere, we can only presume Barry’s colleagues would’ve worn the dazed expression of Jason Robards after the atomic bomb blast in “The Day After”.
“I can confirm that I’ll be playing for Manchester United next season,” said Ronaldo, prompting sports editors everywhere to punch the air and pour warm champagne into paper cups before gazing wistfully at photos of their wives and kids. “I’ll be playing with my heart and soul and I will fight and honour the shirt with the same desire as I always have,” he continued, prompting Manchester United fans everywhere to recall that Big Cup match away to Meeeelan last season, when the petulant primadonna disappeared from view.
Ronaldo went on to put cynics who thought money had motivated his demands for a move to Real Madrid firmly back in their collective box. Contrary to the lies they’d been spreading, it was the desire for “a new challenge” and the prospect of being “an hour’s flight from my mother” that made a move to Madrid seem attractive. After all, what rich, handsome 23-year-old ladies’ man doesn’t want to live as close as possible to his stereotypically demanding Mediterranean mum?