Friday, 29 January 2010

Robinho goes

He's gone - on loan to Santos FC until August 4th.

Coming the day after our semi-final defeat to United, the edge has been taken off the drama of this move. It was no surprise, after weeks of rumours. But it's a big story. Robinho is a key part of the history of the ADUG era at Manchester City, and so by extension a big player in the history of MCFC. His arrival on September 1st 2008 symbolised this thrilling new chapter in our club's history. He came at midnight that evening, poached from underneath Chelsea's nose, for a British record fee of £32.5million. It was the club's most thrilling moment since Paul Dickov smashed the ball past Vince Bartram at Wembley in 1999.

Robinho was meant not just to symbolise our new era but to take us there. And he had a good start to his City career. Playing on the left of a 4-3-3 he impressed, scoring 12 goals in his first 19 games. He provided us with some magical moments: the chip against Arsenal, the hat-trick against Stoke, the beautiful strike against FC Twente. He is as natural a finisher as I have seen in blue. But as the winter set in it became increasingly clear that he was not quite the player we hoped he was. He was lazy on the pitch, disruptive in the dressing room - infamously leaving our Tenerife training camp without permission, and refusing to wear the club uniform on trips - and disgraceful in away games. I maintain that his performance at Fratton Park last winter was the worst I have ever seen from a Manchester City player.

An injury at the start of this season put him out for months, and when fit he fell behind Craig Bellamy and Martin Petrov in the pecking order, who both combine a pace and directness that Robinho lacked. When he did play - as at Goodison Park - he was ineffectual and played as if his heart wasn't in it. After his goal-laden start, he went on to score just four in his last 34 games for the club.

Robinho as a footballer came to mirror Robinho as a signing. All symbol, all gesture, with no solid foundation or basis. Just as he was bought to add glamour and spice to a team that needed strengthening in key areas, his performances themselves prioritised style over substance. A pedalada here, a rabona there, but when there's no effort, no thought, he is revealed to be the bauble he is. His play, just like his purchase, was a case of putting the icing before the cake.

He is officially only at Santos until August 5th. But I would be surprised if we see him at City again. So what does this tell us about ADUG and the whole project? Most obviously, that transfer policy is best conducted by football people. Mark Hughes didn't always spend well - just look at that £40million pair of centre backs - but there's no doubting that chairman-driven transfers aren't smart. But it is certainly to the board's credit that they have sanctioned this, and not insisted on 'their man' continuing to play a role he has no interest in performing. Equally, it reflects well on Roberto Mancini that he has made such a ruthless and clear-headed decision so soon into his management of the club. The luxury of our position is that we can afford to cast off those unwilling and able to do their bit, even if it means losing money. I hope this acts as a deterrent to those who feel they can avoid pulling their weight.

I hope he does well at Santos. He was never my favourite player - I tend to prefer the warriors to the conjurers. But he provided us with some special moments, and showed us a glimpse of the quality of players we could now attract to MCFC. Like his mate Elano, it is a shame that it didn't work out. But I can't wait to see them reunited in the World Cup.


wizzballs said...

his attitude is disheartening and confusing. he says he is happy and wants to achieve great things here, but my judgement is that deep down he doesn't care for european football one little bit. I'd say he's regressing to his childhood dreams of being the biggest player in sao paulo, and a star for brazil. he appears unwilling to try his best here incase he is found out to be lacking.

we just can't afford someone who is unwilling to give their all. we have a canny manager and a squad that needs only minor tweaking. what we need now, for phase two of this 'project' is total commitment and courage from the players.

it's to mancini's credit that he has got an honest answer out of robinho, and to city's credit that they have acted quickly.

to be fair to the boy, I think everyone has the right to pursue their own happiness. if he is genuinely happy there... happy enough to sacrifice the megabucks, I will be delighted for him.

phil said...

I never understood the praise for him. I was excited that City were able to get him, but never sure he would be that great. He was skillful and when in the right position scored some pretty goals, but that's it.

He's just not a good enough athlete to be a great footballer. It's not even his build so much as he's just not that fast or even that quick! How many times after stepovers has he ever beaten his man? I can't remember more than one or two.

Rios Dos Santos said...

All the best to Robinho.
I'm happy now everyone can stop talking about him and get on with our quest for a top 4 place.

Let's get a decent replacement and let us be on our way!

longwayfromhome said...

I'm sure he'll do well in the World Cup and hopefully we'll recoup more of his original transfer fee than we otherwise will have done. The player himself has opened himself up to criticism by first courting Barca and then being unwilling to fight for his place. I always preferred Elano but cannot help but think that there was a goal or two to be had from a bench with Robinho and Weiss on it ... if that goal or two could be the difference between 4th or not 4th we should have kept them both or at least one of them here.