Robinho – mismanaged or misunderstood?

Robinho’s time in England is over. Seemingly incapable of producing anything close to form away from Eastlands meant that every mercurial performance he produced in front of his home fans went hand-in-hand with total anonymity when City went on their travels.

It is the type of expensive mistake that really only Man City can afford to make. £32.4m is a lot to spend on a player that was sceptical of coming in the first place. His desire to leave Real Madrid was never in doubt, but his preferred destination was Scolari’s Chelsea team. When Abramovich stalled over the fee, City made their move.

Now despite calling Robinho’s time at the club an error, I still believe the club were right to do it in the first place. City needed to make a statement of intent, and Robinho was the marquee signing to do that. It is almost as if the club were prepared to pay £30m to show the rest of the world what they were capable of. If it worked out, then brilliant, they would have a gifted player on their books, if it didn’t then at least people knew they meant business.

Despite Robinho’s away day blues, his first season was relatively impressive. He was an important part of what was becoming a very exciting City team to watch. When Roberto Mancini was appointed, the relationship between manager and player began to dwindle. Mancini may have been one of the beautiful footballers to play the game, but he is still an Italian, and with comes the infamous catenaccio style.

Mancini won league titles in Italy with a defensive set up (and the fact that he inherited a team far better than his rivals), and a player that didn’t pull his weight defensively was always going to struggle in one of his teams. Robinho is essentially a luxury, and teams that wish to compete at the absolute peak, can’t afford them, no matter how rich they are.

Now that Robinho is at Milan, he will probably do quite well. He will make up a trio of Brazilians up front with Pato and Ronaldinho, as well as the hulking sulk that his Zlatlan Ibrahimovic. They are reasons for optimism for the Rossoneri, but that is a lot of ego to manage and I can’t imagine they will become a harmonious partnership for years to come. Robinho has signed a four year contract at the San Siro, whether he will be there for the duration is questionable.

Maybe Robinho should be viewed as a fling; a glamorous affair that was short and exciting when it all began, but eventually turned sour, and split after various bust-ups. City shelled out money treating him to good times, and in return they got some good nights out, but there was never any future in the relationship. It is almost impossible to know whether Robinho was misunderstood or mismanaged, because I’m not sure if anyone has answered that question yet. There have been spells in his career where he has been in scintillating form, but never over a considerable period of time. In Brazil, Spain, England and now Italy, some of the best managers in the game have failed in fully realising his undeniable potential.

It is difficult to call Robinho mismanaged because we then have to believe that everybody has been at fault, rather than the man himself. So does that make him misunderstood? Well, to the extent that no one can understand why he has struggled at the clubs he has played for. His managers must become so frustrated with trying to help him succeed. City should be glad that he is no longer their player; while Mancini tries to mould a team together, the disruption that Robinho brings is the last thing they need.

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