Because, unlike in January, we now know that Robinho's time at Manchester City is done. The figurehead and totem of the ADUG takeover has not survived the changes his arrival heralded. Consecutive managers have decided that he does not fit in a squad of less talented but more focussed players. Mark Hughes never had the political capital to follow through on this instinct, but Roberto Mancini did and so Robinho was gone within a month of the Italian's arrival.
So how will his time at City be remembered? There is hardly anything from 2009/10 worth commenting on. Injuries, transatlantic flights and Craig Bellamy prevented him from having any impact more influential than a meaningless goal at Glanford Park. But 2008/09 is different. It would be churlish and myopic to deny his excellence and his impact on arriving in England. For that autumn, he enchanted us just as much as his old pal Elano had done one year before. The chip against Arsenal, the skills against Portsmouth, the clip against Twente, the dance against Hull. Not to mention in the spring his drive at Goodison Park, his pass to Ireland in the Nordbank, his volley against West Brom. He was possibly - pace Kinkladze - the most gifted player I've ever seen at City. He didn't make the most of his talent, but he was still a privilege to witness in blue.
So why the separation? I think he just wasn't what we needed at our stage in our development. Mark Hughes was trying to transform a mid-table side into a UEFA Cup-level team; Robinho was just the last thing we needed. He was always incongruous, in the league, the club, and the Mark Hughes project. And when Roberto Mancini arrived, under desperate pressure for results, he had no interest in someone who had not played well for eight months. And Robinho had no interest in allowing a selection battle jeopardise his World Cup - departure was the only option. I know it's vulgar to quote oneself but it's easier than finding different words for the same thoughts. This is what I wrote when he left for Santos seven months ago:
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 had some great moments, and represented the promise of the Abu Dhabi era at City. After years of Trevor Sinclair and Antoine Sibierski he was a thrilling deliverance from grey mediocrity. But ultimately he was more promise than product; a memorable companion on our journey but certainly not someone to lead us into the promised land.
Robinho MCFC 2008-10. 50 starts, 16 goals.