Was Robinho’s time at Man City ‘really’ a total disaster?

When Robinho made the switch to Manchester City in 2008 quite a few eyebrows were raised.  City’s takeover had only just been completed and they sent in huge bids for Dimitar Berbatov and Robinho.  Berbatov opted for Manchester United but Robinho joined City and the world of football had to take notice of their power in the transfer market.

However, the 26-year-old has moved back to Santos on loan and many are claiming his time at City was a failure – but was it a total disaster?

City forked out a hefty fee to secure Robinho from Real Madrid (£32.5million), which they are unlikely to see a great return on in all honesty.  Despite some decent displays in the Premier League (including a hat-trick against Stoke) he never really showed great consistency and would have the odd game where he was just completely absent.

Robinho constantly moaned to the Brazilian media and was frequently linked with a move away from Eastlands.  This can’t have been great for team morale, or indeed his own morale, and it angered the City faithful – never the best idea.

Despite these obvious negative points I would argue City did benefit from Robinho’s arrival.  The fact he was persuaded to join City, a club without Champions League football to offer and one that had gone for some time without silverware, demonstrated they could perhaps get their hands on just about anyone.  In the 2008/09 season Robinho’s mere presence in that City team scared opponents and gave the established ‘top four’ plenty to think about – could we now be talking about a top five?

Robinho’s arrival paved the way for the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez to make the switch to City. I’m not suggesting the mere fact he was in the team persuaded both Tevez and Adebayor to join, but he is a star player and a big name and other top players want to play alongside other players of a similar standard so I’m fairly sure Robinho’s presence helped City persuade others to make the move to Eastlands. The fact the Brazilian playmaker was even in the squad forced players like Craig Bellamy and Martin Petrov to up their own games and, particularly in Bellamy’s case, they did just that.

City may have lost out financially in the signing of Robinho and he may not have performed as well as many would have expected but it wasn’t the complete disaster many have suggested.  His arrival sent a clear message to the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and, of course, Manchester United that City were here to compete with the established sides and opened the door for other big names to sign up.  It looks as if we’ve seen the last of the Brazilian international in the Premier League now, although it is not a certainty, but I still feel he was an important signing for City in terms of stature – even if it didn’t work out on the pitch.

Written by Gareth Freeman, a sports writer who blogs about Irish racing, Premier League football and Cheltenham 2010.

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