Ronaldo's skills brilliant on the pitch - not off it

MORRIS DALLA COSTA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player. He is a terrific talent and if he takes care of himself he'll be around for many years to come.

But the Manchester United forward is already well on the way to falling in love with himself and becoming the kind of annoying individual that not only turns people off but also becomes a distraction to the team he plays for.

As valuable and talented a player as he may be, that's a sign that not all is right. It's a sign that a player needs to step back and reassess where his focus and his goals are.

Ronaldo has just been awarded the Ballon d'Or as the best player in Europe. There was a time when Ronaldo was a young lad who focused on producing some of the best football in the world. As fame, glamour, money and awards came his way, he grew to like the sound of his own voice. He had no idea -- or perhaps desire -- to avoid controversy.

Ronaldo is young and may believe himself to be bulletproof. But there's a long list of players who lost their way.

Training and hard work took a back seat to everything else. Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Adriano are just a few names that come to mind when it comes to players who should be better than they are right now.

SHOULD'VE LEARNED

Ronaldo should have learned from his Euro 2008 experience.

He went to the tournament carrying expectations that he would be one of the best players in the tournament. But Ronaldo was in the middle of the "will-he-go, won't-he-go" controversy involving Real Madrid. He did little to diffuse the controversy. As a result, his tournament was mediocre at best and Portugal flamed out in their first elimination game.

He also enhanced his reputation as a diver and complainer.

One would think he would have learned about handling this type of situation.

Obviously not.

This week alone, Ronaldo opted to stoke the media fires yet again. When talking about how much he admired Arsene Wenger, coach at Arsenal, he revealed he almost signed with Arsenal.

Then to make matters worse, he gave an interview to a Spanish television station.

MISSES THE BEACH

XL Canal quoted Ronaldo as saying that he cannot get used to Manchester, a city he dislikes.

"I know Manchester from side to side, whereas I spend most of my time at home," he said. "It is pretty much different from Portugal. I am missing the beach, the sun and the sea.

"I am used to living here, which does not mean I like it."

This came on the heels of yet another rumour of Ronaldo leaving Manchester United for another club, this one Inter Milan.

Whether it's true or not doesn't really matter. If Ronaldo wanted to quiet all the rumours, why would he bother to tell anyone he didn't like living in Manchester? Why would he talk about anything but football? Unless he's incredibly naive or stupid, he should know whatever he says would only fuel speculation about his intentions with the European soccer press.

It's surprising Alex Ferguson hasn't told him to button up. Then again, Sir Alex knows what side his bread is buttered.

He does think highly of himself.

"I think I have gone down in history. And I am only 23," Ronaldo said. "But I think I have to work even more. I never relax... I want to do as much next year and even more.

" ... I want more titles, more awards and another Ballon d'Or."

If the three Wise Men choose to visit him, he may want to pass on the gold, frankincense and myrrh and ask for a little humility, dignity and wisdom.


Videos

Photos