A little while ago we looked at some of the players Manchester United missed out on for one reason or another, it was quite a stellar list with some great names.
One of the players on that list was Ronaldinho and whilst he won’t on to do great things for Barcelona, in missing out on him we managed to sign a then unknown (I say unknown but if you played Championship/Football Manager he wasn’t) Portuguese teenager named Cristiano Ronaldo.
I firmly believe in that whole six steps of separation thing and Gerard Houllier’s recent comments confirm there is an element of this if you care to look that deep. Speaking ahead of his current team Aston Villa’s clash with his former team Liverpool, the Frenchman claimed that Liverpool were ready to sign Ronaldo ahead of United:
“I saw him in the Toulon Under-21 tournament and we went for him, but we had a wage scale and we weren’t paying the sort of salary he wanted. Then Manchester United played a friendly against Sporting Lisbon and all their boys said to Sir Alex Ferguson, ‘You have to sign him’. But I agreed with not breaking the wage structure. I thought it would cause problems in our dressing room… Maybe we would have won the title with Ronaldo, but we had Harry Kewell, who was outstanding at the time and was very hungry but got a bad injury.”
I like Gerard Houllier so I won’t be insulting him but surely this is a big turning point in the history between us and Liverpool as Ronaldo it can be claimed was the catalyst to us equalling their league trophy haul as well as closing the gap in terms of European trophies.
It also throws up some very interesting questions.
Houllier wasn’t always praised for his transfer activity so coming out saying this isn’t the smartest move even though it was widely thought but had Liverpool signed him would Ronaldo have gone on to achieve what he has so far, at Anfield?
Would he have been able to help Liverpool break their league duck?
Who would have stepped up for us in his void?