OPINION: Cristiano’s wrong to hush Madrid whistles

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid fans whistles at the Santiago Bernabeu.

When I see Cristiano Ronaldo lecture the fans at the Bernabéu about the whistling, it reminds me that none of us is flawless.

It is a huge mistake on his part, no question. And he, as the #7 for Real Madrid, should understand exactly where he’s making this mistake of forcing boo-boys to stop whistling.

It’s important to recognize the humanity in sports. Everyone hears the whistles. Di Stefano, Del Bosque, Casillas, Raúl, Guti, Juanito, Santillana, Butragueño, Sanchis, Hierro, Sánchez, Zamorano, Van Nistelrooy, Kaká and even Cristiano’s current boss, the first galáctico, Zinedine Zidane, all understand the demanding nature of the Bernabéu.

And what many of those players and fans will say to any other player or fan who hears the whistles is exactly that, they all hear them sooner or later and the reasons are as random as are the nuances in the game itself. We should, however, examine some of the possibilities.

As both a Cristiano and Real Madrid fan, I can pick one moment where the discerning Madridista would feel the need to remind the world’s greatest footballer of his imperfection. When Sergi Roberto broke free with the ball and catapulted Barcelona to a win in the most recent Clásico, video captured Ronaldo yelling for Marcelo to foul him to kill the play.

Ronaldo's angry reaction at Marcelo in El Clasico loss. Yelling for not fouling Sergi Roberto in the build up to Lionel Messi's last-gasp winner to make it Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona.
Ronaldo’s angry reaction at Marcelo in El Clasico loss.

Discerning Real Madrid (and Cristiano) fans would think he needed to do more. Some would argue that instead of standing off on the left and barking out orders, Cristiano should have used his speed to break up that play. Such are the real expectations of fans everywhere and that could be a reason.

What we also know, however, is that ever since the Clásico mishap, Cristiano has been ubiquitous in his box to box presence. He has been everywhere, doing everything since that moment. This, for Madridismo, is a very positive result. This is what we like to see from each of our players. We like to see commanding presence on the field and Cristiano is no exception. In fact, many in the Vikingo ranks (myself included) feel that Cristiano Ronaldo is not only the most dangerous player on our squad but that he is also, therefore, part of the on-field leadership.

And because King Cristiano is, in fact, the King – he should show it for the full 90 minutes.

There is a precedent here, as well. One could argue that not only has Real Madrid’s #7 scored his way to individual and club titles, but that he has paved that rough road with effort beyond goals and assists. When Cristiano is in leadership mode on the field, we simply don’t lose.

Ramos, Navas, Marcelo, Casemiro, Isco and others have often played this role. They have contributed beyond the parameters of their skillsets, but when Cristiano steps into his role as leader (he was once called the “Commander,” ridiculed by a former manager) on the field, success is a virtual guarantee. And if that is the reason, and again, there is no telling what some of the fickle Madrid fans expect from Cristiano at this point (Peace in the Middle East; End world hunger; help Messi win a title with Argentina), then Cristiano has nothing to worry about any longer.

Because Cristiano’s natural state is a leader. At this point in his career when the detractors are starting to line up in favor of his exit from Madrid, when they are starting to scoff at his goal totals because they aren’t the same ridiculous numbers as in past years, when every moment seems to be an indicator that “The End is Near”, he still maintains his excellence when he assumes a leadership role.

Ask Sevilla FC if he isn’t the most imposing player on the pitch at any given moment. Ask Atletico de Madrid what is was like having to play against him after his Champions League hat-trick.

While some would look at the return leg of the Atlético match up as an indicator of mediocrity, few realize just how much Atlético de Madrid had to sacrifice to keep Cristiano (and others as well) in check. Furthermore, that team was designed to compete for all titles, Cup, League and European and they have fallen way short because they cannot seem to get past Real Madrid.

And a large part of their failure can be attributed to Cristiano. When they key on him as a main threat, he still finds the spaces and the gaps to create for others and, because of his imperious athleticism, he wears those defenses down. They try to intimidate him (Koke, Torres) and it fails every time. Every time. However, it took a lesson learned at the hands of Atlético de Madrid for Real Madrid to get to this point. That lesson involved Cristiano celebrating his birthday immediately after Real Madrid, under Ancelotti, took a 4-0 beating at the Calderón.

That loss had reverberations; it cost Ancelotti his job, it sent Casillas to Porto and it demanded a more stringent management style. That demand for stricter management brought in Rafa Benítez and that, sadly, was equally disastrous. On a side note, 4-0 losses are an ugly harbinger of doom for Madrid bosses; Pellegrini at Alarcón, Benítez versus Barcelona, Carlo at the Calderón – all 4-0 defeats that ended their tenures at Madrid.

Ronaldo throwing a birthday party right after the derby loss had Real Madrid fans fuming!

We do know, now, that Cristiano needs reminding – as every player does – about how much he matters to these fans. At Madrid, that reminder often takes a rigorous form with the whistles. They don’t whistle because they think you aren’t excellent. They whistle because they think you aren’t fulfilling your own excellence. It can be summed up in two simple sentences:

Do better.

Be more of yourself.

And that’s the lesson, I think, our standard-bearing, ultra-powerful, elite forward needs to hear just as every star needs to hear. You matter to us. What you do (especially in the cathedral of the Bernabéu, where a lot of those fans are still suffering from other parts of their daily lives and look to their club to ease that suffering) is supremely significant. Because you, Cristiano Ronaldo, are significant to us. Listen to the whistles. Don’t just hear them go in one ear and out the other.

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