13 Feb 2013

Aldo insists LFC hero is 'better' than Cristiano Ronaldo. Agree...?

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling recently admitted that former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo is his football 'idol', an understandable choice given the Portuguese's impact on the modern game. Whilst Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the world's best players, Anfield legend John Aldridge insists that one of Liverpool's great players of the past is superior to the Real Madrid winger.

Speaking to the official LFC website yesterday, Aldo argued that John Barnes was a better player than Ronaldo. He enthused:

"He [barnes] is quite simply the best player I ever played with. John was something else, a latter day Ronaldo if you like...but better. He could do everything and he provided the crosses for many of my goals in a red shirt"

Barnes was an amazing, once in a lifetime player, and I'm so thankful that I got the opportunity to see him play live. I'm convinced that anyone who actually watched Barnesy play regularly for Liverpool would agree that he is a superior player to Ronaldo.

Unlike Ronaldo, Barnes often created everything for himself, and most of the time, he created something out of nothing with his genius skill. Ronaldo often needs other players to create space for him, play him into space, and/or create goals for him. Just watch any compilation of his goals for Real Madrid, and you'll see that the majority are created by others. The same applies on the international stage; he rarely creates something out of nothing for Portugal.

This is why Barnes - and Lionel Messi - are arguably better players than Ronaldo. Messi is very much like Barnes in that he's a one-man creative machine, and regularly creates goals/chances out of nothing. When it comes to a direct comparison, Barnes was (IMO) superior to Ronaldo in the following ways:

* Close control, dribbling, running with the ball.
* Genuine guile, skill and creativity.
* First touch.
* Crossing.
* Passing.
* Chance-creation.
* Goal Assists.
* Free kicks.

Ronaldo possibly has the edge in the following areas:

* Overall goalscoring.
* Heading.
* Shooting.

It should also be remembered that Barnes played in an era where players got practically no protection from referees. Rash tackles were the norm, and defenders constantly hacked, kicked and hassled creative players without fear of being disciplined. Despite this, Barnes still managed to play beautiful football, and he made it look easy.

Ronaldo would've been kicked out of the game in late-1980s. He has it comparatively easy in terms of the physicality he faces from opposing defenders, and I doubt that he'd be half as effective then as he is now. On the other hand, Barnes would've been even better in the modern game as he'd have much more time and space on the ball, and he wouldn't have to deal with hackers like Tony Adams constantly trying to scythe him down with 'reducer' tackles.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. It's rare that I agree with a lot of your posts, this one however spot on. I would however also add the ball they use now days is probably a lot easier to work with, it swerves a lot easier too

  2. Sterling should take note: winger born in jamaica, moves to england and was one of the best players in the world.
    Liverpool should make more use of their iconic former players, inviting them to give masterclasses every now and then. If anything could inspire young players that should!

  3. It is true that Ronaldo is a slightly less magical player than Messi or Barnes, but I don't think people give him enough credit for his strike rate.

    If Ronaldo played centre-forward and scored as many goals as he did, I think he'd get far more respect. Look at the way people talk about Falcao (who is an excellent footballer) but Ronaldo routinely outscores him.

    Before someone says 'I could score 40 goals a season in La Liga', a) You couldn't and b) Ronaldo was prolific in England as well, when he was the player most targeted by defenders in the entire country (like Suarez is now).

    I'd rather watch John Barnes, but you talk about end product a lot JK and Ronaldo's is incomparable. His goal record for Madrid is better than a goal a game. No matter what way you cut it (the excellent players around him, the team is built around him, the relative uncompetitiveness of La Liga) that is astounding.

    As for whether Barnes is 'better' than Ronaldo, it is impossible to know, considering the difference between 80s England and 2013 Spain (or even 00s England) is sizeable. Barnes certainly had the better football brain, which the purists love, and I lean towards Barnesy for that reason, but Ronaldo is no idiot and has recorded over 15 assists in a single season on 3 different occasions.

    It'd be great if we could see how they'd fair in each others day.

    No doubt that Messi is better though.

  4. One more thing that actually makes Barnes even better than Messi - he did not need a 'system' in order for him to play and get the best out of him. He made the team better!


  6. To be fair to Messi, he has played on the right and through the centre for Barca and excelled both times. He is now excelling for the Argentine national side too.

    You could argue Barnes did need a system, since he is generally considered to have underachieved at international level.

  7. Ronaldo's goals per game ratio for Real is stupendous.

    183 in 180 or something. Wowzers

  8. Barnes made it look so easy. Sheer class.

  9. When he was on the right wing, he was still pretty damn good even before Barca tailored the current version of their system to Messi as the central player. So I don't think Messi has anything to prove in that regard. 

  10. Barnes and Messi are less pace reliant and could beat you at walking pace, Ronaldo does have a great strike rate but is too much of a poser.

  11. Underachieved internationally or played in a few positions, it isn't clear?

  12. Fair enough. Barnes arguably played in a more competent side, but neither showed their best for the national side, you are right.

  13. They don't make them like they used to! A lot of his crosses had Aldridge and Beardsley to finish them off too!
    If only...

  14. Great article, barnsey was better, ronaldo is great too but i dont think he has as much natural god given skill as digger did

  15. Barnes retired just when about 3 I never got see his magnificence.

  16. I can't believe I'm about to say this. I agree with everything in one of your articles! Even the detail of where Ronaldo is better. Ronaldo for me is the 2nd or 3rd best player in the World at the moment. Iniesta is a different type of player to Ronaldo but unbelievable in his own way and obviously Messi is the best and will continue to be for some time.

    John Barnes definitely the best player I've ever seen in a red shirt. He made beating players look so easy, could pick the righ pass at the right time and had a calmness in front of goal not possessed by many strikers.

  17. Brilliant idea!
    Videos of them at their peak should be shown regularly too; like in the dressing room before a match and at half time - "This is what we expect of you"

  18. Except at the Maracana ;-)

  19. Barnes epitomises trusting your instincts- staying cool and not giving a fuck, because you trust that it will work, and if it doesn't, there's always next time. He didn't use all of these bedazzling tricks like Ronaldo (I still greatly admire Ronaldo and for some reason like him better than Messi), but still beat defenders. It's just fast foot/ball work you need, and a handfull of creativity, to leave those defenders standing there flat-footed. Once in a while you will need a fancy 360 or something of similar nature (like Barnes displayed in the video), but it just proves you don't need to spend hours on end practising brazilian moves like the Ronaldinho elastic thing. Unfortunately I started watching football about a generation after Barnes's days, as watching him would have made me a lot better player myself. 

  20. agree barnes hands down but watch the video again ,and anyone who would not have beardsley in there all time greatest lfc side needs there head examaning both of them were brilliant i can only think of the king and rush who had a better understanding of what the other player was going to do

  21. i can tell you how they would fair ronaldo would spend 8o mins rolling round the pitch in barnes,s day wear as barnes would thrive in todays none contact football

  22. Loved beardsley as well. One of my all time favourites.

  23. mine to always start in my eleven

  24. John Barnes is my favourite player of all time, he would definitely give Ronaldo a run for his money if he was a 25 year old winger at the peak of his powers.

    But I also think Ronaldo would have done well in the 80s and 90s just because he is 6ft2, built like a brickhouse and is a supreme athlete.

  25. I'm sorry to say but this article is absolute rubbish.  Lets look at the facts:
    Clubs Games / Goals
    JB: 781/198 (1 goal every 4 games)
    CR: 503/306 (3 goals every 5 games)
    International Games / Goals
    JB: 79/11 (1 goal every 7 games)
    CR: 101/38 (1 goal every 3 games)
    Team Medals Won
    JB:  (5) 2 leagues, 2 FA Cups, 1 League Cup
    CR: (10) 3 EPLs, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 1 Champs League, 1 Club World Cup, 1 La Liga, 1 Copa del Rey
    Individual Honours
    JB:  (6) 1 PFA PoY, 2 FWA PoY, 3 times selected in the PFA Team of the Year
    CR: (10) 2 PFA PoY, 2 FWA PoY, 1 Fifa World PoY, 4 times selected in the PFA Team of the Year, countless other awards
    All of this is comparing Barnes 18 year career to Ronaldo's 11 year career so far.   
    Regarding ability to create chances - Ronaldo is practically a 1 man show at Real Madrid.  Barnes was never a 1 man show for LFC. 
    Regarding free kicks - Ronaldo has invented a new style of free kicks.  He has also scored more free kicks at age 28 than Barnes did in his whole career. 
    Barnes is one of LFCs all time greats however IMO is is nowhere near as good as Ronaldo.  Ronaldo is more determined, more aggressive, more effective, has a greater range of skills, is a more consistent performer, and is a born winner.  If Barnes at his peak was challenging Ronaldo for a place in the Real Madrid team, the reality is that Barnes would hardly every play. 
    At his best, Barnes scored 28 goals for LFC in one season.  Ronaldo scored 53 in 2011, 60 in 2012, and has 37 so far this year. 

  26. What sets him apart is also the class and intelligence of the guy. Was lucky enough to meet him a few years ago and what a genuine and lovely chap. More than happy to meet and take photos despite obviously looking tired after a long haul flight (met him in an airport). He also gives decent opinions and avoids the usual footballer (brain dead) cliches. 

  27. You also forgot to mention the fact that racism was abundant in his playing days. He just rolled up his sleeves and kept working hard, and never walked off the pitch or got butt hurt. Today the level of racism has been mostly banter in all honesty, of course there's no place for it, but a player of today wouldn't have the heart to work hard if he was thrust in John Barne's time.

  28. im not sure how relevant comparing it is to compare the eras in which they player. Without doubt Ronaldo has it easier now, and so maybe that should make his accomplishments deserve less credit, but you could argue that they both only needed to be as good as their era required.

    Barnes was brought up in a more aggressive form of the game, and so excelled. Ronaldo's behaviour is a symptom of the modern game, if he played in the 80s he'd have been much tougher.

  29. C.Ronaldo is a goog player because he has a very special skill and finishing with many goal result.This a diffrent between Sterling and Ronaldo.Sometimes sterling waste many times with keep holding the ball at his foot for to longer.This will give rhe chances for contender players can running back to defend the their fortress.Enjoy,but don't jolly the games


  31. rodgers is clueless8:32 pm, February 14, 2013

    What a rediculous team selection AGAIN - play a striker B R - its GOALS THAT COUNT NOT INTERVIEWS AFTER

  32. what a joy to watch those clips. he's my favorite player in my 30 + years watching the reds. what a class act. dont think "digger" got booked either

  33. Barnes is my all time favourite Liverpool player but to say he is superior to Ronaldo is biased I'm afraid. Ronaldo's statistics prove that, JB's don't come close and to say he was better at free kicks? Come on! Yes JB scored some great free kicks but compare his record to Ronaldo's. Also to say Ronaldo would have struggled in the 80's is wrong, he is a supreme athlete and very strong so would easily have coped, whereas players from the 80's are not as fit and athletic as they are now so you could argue they would struggle in the modern game. 

  34. Yes Aldo is right. Barnes was a much better player than Ronaldo.

  35. Ask yourself who you would rather have in your team at his peak.

    Barnes all day, every day. In today's environment he would be unstoppable. When he got older, and lost some of his speed, he just used his brilliant football brain to become a perfect kingpin in midfield.

    Let's see Ronaldo do that when he slows down

    Only Messi is better for me as an attacking midfielder. And I doubt he will make the transition in his later career.

    And all this without today's billiard table pitches, and wobbly balls. Would Ronaldo's free kick technique work on those older heavier balls? not sure, but I doubt it.

  36. Look at the pitches- all bobbles and wet patches. Ronaldo relies a lot on his pace, but the ball did not roll anywhere near as well as it does now. Plus Ronaldo doesn't/ hasn't coped so well with today's tackling. He would have been brilliant, but would alsohave been kicked out of a lot of 80's matches, bad tackles and Ronaldo just don't mix

  37. The thing is Ronaldo has scored over 220 club career goals and has plenty more to come, his record with Madrid is better than a goal a game which is unbelievable. Barnes scored 165 in his whole career which is still good but not comparable to Ronaldo. Also Barnes failed to deliver at international level. I know you can argue that so has Ronaldo but he has performed better at that level than Barnes did.

  38. I don't doubt Ronaldo's place in the top 3 players in the world, but the fact is we're talking about who was the better player overall, not who had the best stats, you have to remember that CR played for dominant teams at both of his clubs, after real and Barca there's very little competition, plenty of scope for 4 and 5 goal wins, and the Man U side he played in was also very dominant.

    I have no doubt that JB would have vastly better stats if he was playing for Man U and Real rather than a top Liverpoool side plus some also rans, I just doubt that CR would have anywhwere near the same success in the era JB played in .And the England team of the time was much more hoof it and run than today's cultured Portugal side

  39. No pressure on the young lads then...