Manchester City find themselves in a predicament that was always going to be inevitable given their spending tactics over the last year. They have an unbalanced side in which they are spoilt for choice in certain positions, yet are lacking in quality in others. Take their strike force for example. Mark Hughes has the dilemma every game of choosing from a list of names that include Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy, Robinho, Roque Santa Cruz and even Benjani. He is in a situation where he cannot satisfy all of the egos in his squad and his most pressing issue is undoubtedly the Brazilian Robinho.
The striker was the talisman that led City’s season last year. His 14 goals greatly contributed to Mark Hughes’ side finishing in the top half of the table and without him you could argue that the Welshman would no longer be in charge of the Manchester club given the high expectations of the owners. However, the Brazilian has missed out of much of this season with an ankle injury and his situation at Eastlands has changed greatly.
The former Real Madrid man is no longer a first choice striker with Adebayor and Tevez preferred. Robinho has found his chances limited to wing roles and although he was effective there last season and a player of his class can still be dangerous from the flanks, it is clear that he has not been performing this campaign. The competition for the returning Martin Petrov has not installed the fight and drive into the Brazilan that Hughes would have hoped. In addition to his head has been consistently turned by the temptation of Barcelona who have expressed an interest in the flamboyant attacker. Robinho is one of those players who can have the world at his feet when he is on form and everything is going his way yet he is less willing to fight for the cause when the going gets tough. I do not believe that he is enjoying the fact that he is no longer the flagship signing of the Manchester City revolution.
In recent games Robinho has been deployed in a familiar wide role yet has been thoroughly disappointing. I watched the Chelsea match in which City performed heroically in a hard fought win yet I forgot Robinho was even playing until hearing his name mentioned around the 60th minute mark. He has the ability to drift out of games and there is the sense that his interest at Manchester City is fading. Last night against Spurs he had another away day in which he isolated left back Sylvinho, leaving the in-form Aaron Lennon to torment the 35-year-old Brazilian for 90 minutes. Whereas last season the Brazilian would be at the centre of the match, floating across the park, this year he has found himself drifting out of games.
Mark Hughes needs to solve the issue of Robinho and fast. It looks like the Barcelona ship has sailed for the attacker yet Hughes needs to define the role Robinho has to play in the new Man City set up. You could argue that the range of players that Manchester City have in attack means that they are unable to find a system that suits all of them. Robinho is a little like Didier Drogba in the sense that he needs to believe he is one of the most important members of the squad in order to perform. When on a run of form the striker can be one of the world’s most dangerous players but he is currently underperforming and is in a predicament. It will be interesting to see the rumours that are circulated about Robinho during the transfer window and the January period will no doubt help determine his role within the side. Robinho does have the ability to see be a key player for City, but his attitude and performances need to change. It is worth Hughes doing his utmost to keep the Robinho but the Brazilian needs to be solely focused on being a Manchester City player.