When Tiger Woods came onto the scene and nobody had ever witnessed his likes before the authorities tried to keep golf competitive by “Tiger-proofing” courses.
Woods was winning so big and so often that many famous courses were lengthened in the vain hope that Woods’ vicious power would be somehow neutralised.
Woods was dominating to such an extent that they altered the very terrain he was playing on just so other competitors might have a shot at anything other than second place.
Tiger-proofing is not available in football.
Consistency is the wrong word for Ronaldo and Messi. Consistency puts into the mind an idea of a player who can be merely relied upon to perform for a long time. A diesel wagon. There isn’t a word big enough to describe the extra-terrestrial efforts they have put in over the past decade or so.
What they are doing cannot be seen as the new standard. There is not a man alive who can touch either of them. When all is said and done and Ronaldo’s back in Portugal and Messi in Argentina, we will have to readjust our expectations of what it means to be a great player.
No one will ever thrill us like they can. We will be cheering for players we know are not good enough to lace their boots. That is the saddest thing. One day we’ll wake up and this dream will be over. The records will be forever untouched and so too will our sense of wonder.
It isn’t enough to say Ronaldo and Messi have improved football. They have changed it. This isn’t like Arsene Wenger teaching English players to eat properly and look after themselves. Eventually, everyone can do that and catch up. It’s not like Pep Guardiola and his sweeping tactical changes.Eventually, too, ideas become redundant and things change. Messi and Ronaldo – they’re so far ahead of anything that’s gone before and impossible to match for anyone coming after.