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The Robinho Question

18 August 2010

Robinho found the back of the net just once in 12 appearances for City last season.

With Stephen Ireland and Craig Bellamy departing the club, the biggest question surrounding City’s 2010-2011 squad is what will become of Robinho. The Brazilian is back training with the City after his loan spell at Santos ended back on August 4. The UK media still speculate about the proposed Robinho-plus-cash deal with Barcelona for Zlatan Ibrahimovic that we’ve been hearing about for so long now. I actually think Robinho should stay at City and fight for his place in the squad.

Robinho is a luxury item — high-performance sportscar. City signing him back in 2008 was great from a credibility/PR standpoint for the club’s new ownership, but made little sense on the pitch. Despite his hot start, he has proven that he can’t be asked or arsed to do the hard work required to raise the club’s profile. He’s the cherry on top of the sundae that you bring in when all the other pieces are in place, but City tried using their Porsche to plough fields, and disappearing acts on the proverbial wet January nights at Stoke spoke volumes.

City weren’t quite Robinho-ready last season. Defensive frailties made it hard to justify putting an attack-only player out on the pitch, with Wayne Bridge looking suspect at times at left back, and Javier Garrido not up to the task when Bridge injured his knee. Also, with the dip in Ireland’s form, the lack of a creative attacking mid deprived Robinho of the crucial link his game needs around the box. His confidence disintegrated, and his game along with it.

However, with left back improved by the signing of Aleksandar Kolarov, there won’t be the same need for the left-sided player to track back and help out with defensive duties. Bellamy’s departure means there’s a spot potentially available to Robinho on the left side, should he stay put. Add in the signings of David Silva and James Milner as creative forces behind the strikers, and I think the club might be ready for Robson at long last.

That is, if everyone — the coaching staff, his teammates, and possibly most importantly the fans — can put the disappointing last 1.5 seasons behind them and give Robinho a fresh start.

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