Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sporting Lisbon fans still love Ronaldo...

I have received an invitation from a Sporting Lisbon (Sporting Clube de Portugal) fan to ask a few questions and exchange views ahead of the Red Devils impending Champions League tie with his club. Unless you've been living underneath a stone you will know that United have signed two former Sporting players, firstly Cristiano Ronaldo and this summer Nani.

Nuno Neves is 32 years of age, he is a member of Juve Leo (Juventude Leonina) the Ultras of Sporting. He also writes a blog on his favourite team Bancada Sul

What was the general reaction of the Sporting Lisbon fans when it was revealed that Ronaldo and then Nani were to join United?

There was two different types of reaction. In the case of Ronaldo, in general we are sad with his exit, he already had an enormous potential and Sporting had the promise of a huge fee for a very young player. In the Nani's case, it was a good price too, but even so it was not so important to Sporting as it was when we sold Ronaldo.

Do the Sporting fans bear any grundges against the star duo after they joined United?

We supporters don't have any problems with the fact that they joined United, Sporting cannot compete with the economic power of Manchester United or the other rich clubs of Europe.

When Ronaldo and Nani return to face Sporting, will they receive a good reception from your fans?

They will have a enourmous reception, especially Cristiano Ronaldo who we have great care and consideration.

In 2003, United were supposed to have formed links with Sporting Lisbon, we the fans were told that this would lead to players being exchanged and more besides. However, in signing Nani this summer, the Red Devils had to invoke a get-out clause in Nani's contract. This wouldn't on the face of it seem to be the actions of two clubs who were in partnership. Were you the Sporting fans aware of the two clubs linking up? If you were aware, do you know if the two clubs are still working together in any way?

Well since that date, we Sporting fans, know the existence of that contract. In the time that it was linked, we thought some of dispensed players from United could came to Sporting squad, but we never exchanged anyone from Manchester United, to be sincere with you, we've never understood the link between the two clubs (JR adds - neither do we Nuno)

I understand that Sporting are not the team they were because of losing the likes of Nani and Ronaldo, who should United fans look out for when the two clubs meet?

Well, this is a new team this year, we have 10 new players, and there isn't yet a connection between all the players. But the best Sporting player is without a doubt Liedson. Here we say "Liedson resolve", it means "Liedson solves" or "Liedson decides"

How do Portuguese fans view Jose Mourinho and where do you see him managing in the next few seasons.

Well we have a love and hate relation with Jose Mourinho, we Sporting fans, never liked him. He was born to football as an assistant manager at Sporting when Bobby Robson was our coach, but eventually he went on to be the manager of Benfica and Porto - two teams that we Sporting fans hate. In one game when coaching Benfica, Mourinho did the finger salute to us the fans, when they scored a goal, this on the same day that that he was fired from Benfica. He didn't lose his job becouse of the teams results, he was going to sign a contract with Sporting, but we the fans went to Alvalade and said firmily that we did not want this kind of man leading Sporting. A few years later when he was Porto´s coach, he ripped off the team jersey of Rui Jorge, our left-sided defender in a game at the Alvalade. The incident took place in the dressing room, but it was something that we will never forget.

Nuno has submitted a review of Lisbon to the BigEasy Travel Guide for any fans who are travelling to the city.

Add your own Lisbon recommendations

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