LARRY RYAN: Now that Ronaldo’s a goal hanger, could the box player become box office again?

Maybe Ronaldo will start to let himself go now, like some of his under-appreciated contemporaries, writes Larry Ryan.

Type ‘Why are M…’ and Google already knows what you’re after.

So why are Madrid fans booing Cristiano Ronaldo?

“They always ask for a little more,” Sergio Ramos points out, helpfully noting that even he has been whistled, such are the extreme demands at the Bernabeu.

Former Real keeper Iker Casillas feels the lack of appreciation is a form of “madness”: “If he scores two or three goals a game, that is what he is supposed to do.”

Madrid paper Marca puts it down to Ronaldo’s own outward frustrations with this new peripheral role he has, scoring all the goals.

“It’s not easy for a player who is accustomed to getting fans out of their seats every few minutes to accept only being able to do so three or four times over 90 minutes - even if those instances are goals or attempts at goal.

For that reason, many Madridistas were open to their club selling Ronaldo last summer in order to rebuild their attack.”

Though Marca notes that Ronaldo is starting to make the best of things lately, is knuckling down to the tedium of banging in the hat-tricks.

“He now appears to be content with ‘simply’ being his team’s best finisher.”

He is raising many fundamental questions these days, Ronaldo, with his hat-tricks in this new bit-part role he is settling into.

Is he scoring too many goals? Is he a one-man equivalent of those pre-internet 501 Great Goals videos, that left you a little queasy halfway through and willing a keeper to save one? Or do a Schumacher on yet another advancing striker.

Has Ronaldo’s license to print goals devalued the currency, quantitatively easing the credit he should be getting for each goal?

Or should he have more goals? Was it the best use of his time, the stepover years? Would he have 1,000 goals by now, rather than just the 600 or so, had he pared things down a little earlier? Had he not been so keen to get the punters out of their seats. Had he stuck to hatching and dispatching. Or was it essential he developed the full range of his skills in the wider prairies before settling down to this semi-retirement deploying them in the penalty area, in the menial hunt for goals?

Have we been asking nearly enough of the men traditionally charged with getting goals, setting the bar low with our praise for their one in two records?

Or does the game have a habit of loading too many extra chores on those golden boys who have the knack for goals?

Why must Sergio Aguero track back, Daniel Sturridge gegenpress, or Romelu Lukaku run the channels?

Was it another form of madness Frank Lampard was made to run around the pitch all day when he was clearly born to arrive at the edge of the area and pinball in goals?

In order to arrive, Frank had to go back, I suppose, so he may as well have been doing something while he was there. But was he doing too much? Bryan Robson too. Saddled with work. And Stevie G. Convinced he was born to pull strings when his natural calling was to kick it hard into the goal in the nick of time and take a bow.

When Poch, a man who seems to know how to oil a goal machine, is gone, will England make the same mistakes all over again with Dele Alli, in the search for their latest midfield general?

It works the other way too, this curious lack of respect for the goalscoring trade. Now that Aaron Ramsey has misplaced the golden knack, Arsenal allow him to carry on regardless doing whatever else he does, when the whole point of Ramsey may have been the goals.

But the specialist goalscorer has long been a protected species. Near extinct, thanks to 4-3-3 and 4-5-1.

There are not many environmentalists around like Harry Redknapp, who used to send Yakubu off for finishing practice with Luther Blissett while his Portsmouth players not blessed with the knack were training and working on ways to ‘feed the Yak’.

If anything sums up the modern lack of regard for the finisher, it is the Madridistas’ notion that you might sell your guaranteed source of goals to rebuild your attack.

And it could be seen as the final insult to the grand old art, the theory Ronaldo has stepped down into goalscoring. Or gone upstairs into goalscoring. Has had to go full-time with the goalscoring just to make ends meet.

Maybe Ronaldo will start to let himself go now, like some of his under-appreciated contemporaries.

If he heard Liam Brady midweek, damning faint praise on a man who’d just scored two decisive goals in a Champions League semi-final, Cristiano might soon be sucking in a gut while flexing in front of the mirror.

“He is not easy to watch, Higuain,” sniffed Chippy. “He’s not very mobile. He looks overweight. But he knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. There’s been players like him down through the years. Gerd Muller. There was no shape to him. He was heavy. But he was a great box player.”

He is a curiosity these days, the box player. A donkey, if you’re Eamon Dunphy.

But what will happen to this unglamorous place now it has welcomed the most glamorous player of all.

Kevin Spacey swapped the silver screen for the other box in House of Cards and McConaughey, Farrell, Kidman and the rest of Hollywood soon followed?

Now that Ronaldo’s a goal hanger, could the box player become box office again?

Galway enjoy it far too much

I see the Galway lads are still on the back foot, a fortnight on, having made the GAA’s cardinal error.

Having been seen to take a small bit of enjoyment out of a victory.

There is no place for that kind of thing in these joyless times of The Sacrifices and The Demands.

There can be no taking a moment’s satisfaction when GAA glory is powered by hurt and pain.

No snacking on a little spring success in the era of the Savage Hunger.

It was embarrassing enough for the Kerry lads that they were seen to release a moment’s careless jubilation at the final whistle of the football league final.

But for Galway to allow enjoyment at beating Tipp to linger late into the evening flew in the face of everything we know.

So Micheál Donoghue had to defend it again this week, this egregious departure from best practice, the small bit of a homecoming they had on the way back from the match.

Indeed, Micheál was probably glad the matter came up and was notably vocal about the criticism the camp has been subjected to.

Because having eaten dangerously into The Savage Hunger, he knows Galway may well have to turn, down the line, to that other great GAA reliable: What They Said About Us Coming Up Here Today.

Heroes & villains

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

Marcus Rashford:

The lad looks to have everything he needs in his locker to rule the penalty box. So watch them stuff it full of more baggage.

LeBron James:

Giving journos revenue opportunities. “You find somebody to stop LeBron in these moments, I’ll give you $100,” Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan told reporters, after LeBron put up 39 points Wednesday night. Mind you, nobody has cashed in yet.

HELL IN A HANDCART

Irregular betting patterns:

In light of events in the midlands, Coral might want to rethink that ad they show us just before kick-off on BT Sport live games, inviting a punt with the teaser: “Do you want to be a spectator or a player?” May at least to need to tweak it to clarify, if you are a player, best give this a miss.


Lifestyle

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