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Mancini faces Robinho dilemma

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Phil McNulty | 20:46 UK time, Saturday, 26 December 2009

Roberto Mancini, in one of the more spectacular revelations after a winning start to his tenure as Manchester City manager, announced: "Craig Bellamy is my friend."

It was a conclusion Mancini may have found a lot easier to reach after spending 70 minutes in close proximity to Robinho - and after hearing Eastlands afford Bellamy a rousing, and significant, standing ovation when he replaced the infuriating Brazilian.

Mancini's first game against a disappointingly tame Stoke was as comfortable as City's hierarchy intended it to be in the weeks they spent plotting the ham-fisted downfall of his predecessor Mark Hughes.

Hughes has gone, but one dilemma from his era remains and all the goodwill afforded the Italian and generated by this victory will not remove it. What will Mancini do about Robinho?

Robinho flirted with making a serious contribution to City's deserved victory, with his one major intervention being a questionable touch to Carlos Tevez's cross that led to Martin Petrov scoring the first goal of the Mancini reign.

It was all downhill after that and his final contribution was to allow a presentable pass slide apologetically past him into touch. Cue the beckoning finger from Mancini and a deafening welcome for Bellamy - which led to that most embarrassing of spectacles, namely Robinho milking an ovation that actually belonged to someone else.

Mancini has spent much of a treacherous first week at Eastlands talking up Robinho - a wise move if he hopes to garner interest for the under-achieving South American when the transfer window opens in a few days' time.

And if you judge a man by the company he keeps, the Eastlands crowd were advising Mancini to stay close to Bellamy, reportedly one of the more discontented after the departure of Hughes, who managed him with Blackburn Rovers, City and Wales.

In much the same way as Manchester United's fans always warmed to the efforts of Carlos Tevez as opposed to the more unpredictable contribution of Dimiar Berbatov, City's followers prefer the tireless nuisance of Bellamy when weighed against the more mercurial Robinho.

robinho595335ap.jpgRoberto Mancini gets his feelings across to Robinho during the victory over Stoke

The test may come when 2010 is ushered in. If one of Mancini's early decisions was to prefer Robinho to Bellamy against Stoke, then his next may be to decide which one to keep in the transfer window. There should only be one out of the door if it happens - Robinho. Manchester City's fans made it deafeningly clear who they would keep. And they were right.

Mancini may wish to keep both, but with Tevez also in the mix he would be unwise to refuse any serious interest in Robinho, who made a flowery farewell when replaced by the more popular Bellamy.

Bellamy may be regarded by many as a gigantic pain in the neck, and it would be a surprise if he did not make his feelings about Hughes' departure clear, but he has been outstanding for City and represents a better bet than Robinho.

Robinho floated ineffectively around the edges against Stoke, the body language less than urgent, and Mancini was diplomacy itself when he put his substitution down to the £32.5m striker being "tired."

Mancini may regard this as a small cloud on a happy horizon after getting the three points City needed so badly after coming under an avalanche of criticism for the way Hughes was deposed.

City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak and chief executive Garry Cook looked particularly relieved as they shared a victory handshake - and so they should be given the flak aimed in their direction over the managerial succession at Eastlands.

Both have a large stake in Mancini's future success as the 14th City manager during the 23-year reign enjoyed by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. If he fails you suspect they may find it difficult to claw back lost credibility.

If Cook is so keen on "trajectory of results" - a corporate phrase I hope I never hear again in a football context and especially when a manager loses his job - then he must hope it is onward and upward under Mancini.

And this was a good, if unspectacular, start. Mancini, resplendent in large sky blue scarf, was well received before kick-off, and there was irony in his brief handshake and chat with Stoke assistant manager Peter Reid.

If Mancini needed a history lesson on how badly managers can be treated at City, Reid might have reminded him how he was mystifyingly ditched four games into the 1993/94 season.

The Italian was swiftly into his stride, to the extent of occasionally waving his new right-hand man Brian Kidd back into the technical area when he moved forward to offer advice. This is his show.

He applauded warmly when goalkeeper Shay Given came to claim a cross with confidence and thanked his "fantastic" players enthusiastically at the final whistle. Mancini will know already that if he is to build anything of substance at Eastlands, however long he may survive, it will not be done without this outstanding goalkeeper.

Tevez's goal in first half stoppage time effectively confirmed the win, and the second period allowed Mancini to display his pragmatism. replacing the tiring Sylvinho with the more energetic Micah Richards after 66 minutes and presiding over a plan designed to protect a lead rather than extending it.

City still showed the vulnerability that pock-marked the Hughes' era, and it would have been intriguing to see the reaction, on the pitch and in the stands, had Tuncay not been halted by Given early on.

Beattie was also frustrated by Given and Robert Huth headed wide at a point when a goal may just have made the difference - but this was a merited winning start.

Mancini made his way on to the turf and shared an affectionate exchange with Bellamy at the final whistle. With friends like Bellamy, who needs Robinho?

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I'm sorry but that whole article smells of trying to find some justification for branding City in crises when its already clear that in relaity the management change has shown its merit already.

    I'll have a sportsman bet with you Mr McNulty, Bellamy will leave before Robinho and Robinho will score more goals than Bellamy come season end.

  • Comment number 2.

    Phil, I don’t understand what agenda have you in mind against my club. Last night you called Robinhoo “embarrassing” and now you are coming up with this?

    Robinhoo has been injured for three month; this is only his 3ed week back in action. I don’t think Bellamy was anywhere near as entertaining as Robinhoo now, during his third week in action after his injury.

    How can you generalize and speak in my name when you say “City's followers prefer the tireless nuisance of Bellamy when weighed against the more mercurial Robinho”?? One section in the ground made the noise for Bellamy, not the entire ground and certainly not all City followers.


    I am very disappointed in your witch-hunt against my club, I can not believe that you chose to write a negative article after watching the game yesterday rather than praising the positive of the game and the new manager.

    I sincerely thought, that you would come out and apologies for your previous article by putting your hands up and admitting that Mancini is a proper manager who possess all that a manager needed to be successful, all of which qualities Hughes didn’t have. Watching Mancini’s tactics yesterday made me think “Mark Hughes, Hope never to see your face near my club again.

  • Comment number 3.

    One more thing Phil, I am starting to wonder; what does a man who tipped Liverpool to win the tile at the beginning of the season knows about football. Am also wondering whether Alex Ferguson has agreed to end his boycott to the BBC in return for two, back to back, assaults on City?? Could that be it Phil?

  • Comment number 4.

    what is this witch-hunt about the foreigners at City? Can you announce the schedule for next week? Let me guess, Adebayor, Toure, Zabaleta, Petrov, Erikkson??

    or will you go further back to Dabo, Berkovic etc??

  • Comment number 5.

    ok. Utd fan here, but I must say I don't get the Robinho hating that goes on around here. He was exceptional last year, is one of their few truly world class players they have, and he is in the Brazil first team!
    Bellamy runs around sure, but they bought Tevez to do that.

    Robinho won't leave this transfer window, no chance.

  • Comment number 6.

    As a City fan I too loved watching Robinho when he was at his best particularly at home when we were counter attacking thats when he is as his best unfortunately with MH we seemed to have stopped playing that, most telling thing for me yesterday was that Petrov who was our best player under Sven started.When MH arrived he was injured and when he recovered was hardly ever played that meant the pace that created breaks for Robbie was missing I would like to see Robbie on the right ,Petrov on the left and 2 in the middle from Ireland/Barrie/De Jong.I like a lot of city fans had my doubts about MH's tactics and think that Mancini will prove to be a better manager.However that doesn't excuse the shabby way that MH was treated and the sooner Gary Cook leaves the club the better all the best executives are the ones you don't hear about ,Cook reminds me of Kenyon and less said about that the better.Anyway back to Robbie lets see of Mancini can get the best out of him if he can't sell him in the summer when he will have a higher profile in SA.

  • Comment number 7.

    Subsea75...

    Alex Ferguson hasn't ended his boycott of the BBC through choice, it's a new law or directive of somekind that says that managers have to give press conferences and interviews to all broadcasters. Certainly not because of 2 articles written by Phil Mculty belittling Man City

  • Comment number 8.

    I think you City fans are being a bit sensitive here - I don't think that the writer has any particular agenda against your (or any) club. His views in the last week echo those of all the popular press. I also think that you can't make a reasoned view on Mancini until the end of the season (or at least some bigger games than Stoke at home).

    That said I think Robinho deserves a bit more time following his injury. So far in his career, no manager has managed to consistently get the best out of him but he is undoubtedly a talented player and I would always want a player in my squad who has the ability to do something out of the ordinary to turn a game particularly with the potential for bigger stages ahead.

    I personally think that what Mancini needs to consider is how he can get the best out of Robinho.

    Bellamy has always tended to start well at clubs before fading somewhat. But at the moment I don't think Mancini needs to sell either player. The club can afford their wages so its just a matter of keeping all parties happy.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hey phil.i'm going to try and be a little bit more diplomatic about this whole think.i've seen you give some other players time to recover from injury much like you did to aquillani in a previous blog.robinho did show a lot last season and wanting to sell him after a few games after being out for a couple of months would be as bad as firing hughes.bellamy fit into the hughes mould because he showed graft and always ran his life away but like one user said they have tevez for that.some teams will block out the graft and they'll need some creativity to unlock that.to the user who called robinho world class i think you need to rethink that.he would never fit into a world eleven thus is not world class.to show what mancini was trying to do he played petrov who didn't get game time under hughes.i think hughes was tactically rigid and thus couldn't fit in the more flair creative players like robinho and martin.if robinho had about as many games as say adebayor and you said what you said phil i may have agreed with you but i think you were quick to pull the trigger this time around

  • Comment number 10.

    Some simple points
    1) Mancini beat at home a newly promoted side that struggles with away form who played only to contain. Anything less than a win would have been embarassing, keeping in mind that he used players and the team brought in by Hughes. Any one who thinks this team under Hughes would not have won, should not be taken seriously.

    2) Robinho is a great player for Brazil and I wish him well in his time at Barca or Real. He does not add anything to Man City except a pay check. Bellamy does!
    My view is is still that he thought he had signed for Man U, made the best of it last year and now is realizing he is stuck at this club until such time as he can be sold, prediction after the World Cup this summer. Keep in mind that none of us have been present at the conversations held between Hughes and Robinho.

    3) I hope in all my heart based on nothing but the arrogance coming from the owner's that Mancini fails (no offense to him) by not finishing in the top 4. Anyone who thinks that managers like Wenger (who will never go to City after all if he wanted to he would join Real today), Ferguson, Ancelotti, O'Neil and Redknapp deserve such indifference has no place at the Premiership table.

    Keep in mind that many people have tried to buy the title and all have failed, see Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle all of which have been or are on their way to being relegated. Even Chelsea were built on an existing backbone of Terry, Lampard and Cech and not through the addition of players like Shevchenko.

  • Comment number 11.

    Sorry as a newbie to disagree with some of the earlier comments on this blog, but for me it's Bellamy over Robinho every time.In fact I was amazed when I saw Robinho starting ahead of Bellamy. Although I think that some of 'City in crisis' rubbish recently has been over the top, I still feel that we (any club) needs leaders & fighters all over the pitch. Robinho a fighter I think not. Goal behind to our neighbours? Bellamy to fight for it, or Robinho? No contest to my mind.

  • Comment number 12.

    7. At 09:41am on 27 Dec 2009, Wayne Sullivan:

    I am fully aware of the rule you are referring too, but that will take effect from next season (Aug 2010).

    What I said “Am also wondering whether Alex Ferguson has agreed to end his boycott to the BBC in return for two, back to back, assaults on City??” meaning if AF gives an interview to the BBC before then (Aug 2010) then it is highly likely that I will be thinking 1+1=2.

  • Comment number 13.

    I wonder why there is no mention of Petrov's outburst against Hughes on this website or in this blog, when you repeatedly draw attention to Bellamy's discomfort at Hughes's sacking

  • Comment number 14.

    Subsea75...

    Am struggling to establish what you actually mean? I don't think Ferguson will give an interview before then because of a scathing blog about Man City... This seems a strange way to think of it to me?

    About the blog, there is no doubt Robinho is a great player, you don't come with the reputation that he has for no reason, but for some reason he just hasn't clicked with the players, the city, or the way of life ovr here, it is somewhat different to that of Real Madrid. I also think that he thinks he is better than the other players and gets frustrated when tey don't "get him" so to speak, as in such cases of Paul Ince and Roy Keane to name but two...

    Bellamy is a handful but as someone else has said, he seems to start off well at clubs and then fades, will be interesting to see wat happens at season's end. I sincerely doubt we will see Mancini or Robinho at Eastlands next August

  • Comment number 15.

    wah wah witch hunt...

    how exactly has phil been attacking the foreigners of city? The person Phil has most strongly objected to has been Cook. The guy is a slimy so and so who performed the hatchet job on Hughes in the most clandestine way, then used ridiculous corporate speak to try and excuse his actions, and then started to fling mud at other clubs to relieve the pressure on himself.

    Part of the job of a CEO at a football club is to make sure that inter-club relationships transcend pitch-based rivallry so that deals can be made more easily, yet this guy labelled one of the biggest clubs "bottlers" because a deal didn't go through, back then I thought this guy is out of his depth and will not oversee City becoming a great club, this whole debacle has strengthened my view.

    Robinho had an awful game yesterday, Bellamy is having a great season by his standards, enjoying playing in a team that wants to get the ball forwards. This article is justified, and, if you hadn't noticed it represents Mancini as having a confident, assured first game, which is exactly what it was.

  • Comment number 16.

    PS: regarding this article being xenophobic, if one gives Wales its full respect, then I believe both Mark Hughes and Craig Bellamy are foreign, i.e. not English, as well.

  • Comment number 17.

    pidegeGULL, thank you for saying exactly how I feel about Cook & yesterday's game.

  • Comment number 18.

    Phil, I fail to understand the point of this article, so perhaps you can help me.

    You have already launched a scathing attack on Manchester City and their heircarchy previous to this article.

    This article seems like a thrown together, jumbled piece of journalism feeding only your desire to further display your disapointment at Mark Hughes' sacking. But Phil, we already know what you think from your previous articles, so why this thrown together attack on Manchester City?

    I am not surprised that you have come under criticism from Manchester City fans for your articles surrounding the Mark Hughes debate, because there does seem to be a huge element of bias against them. Please tell me I am wrong Phil. But I just don't see any point to this article, apart from you attempting a lead-in with a very good point about Robinho, and then quickly descending once again into attacking Manchester City.

    For the record, I am a Manchester United fan who is just rather mystified at your attacking of Man City. Your entire focus has been merely on debating the handling of Hughes' sacking. There has been very little focus on whether or not this was the right or wrong decision.

    The way he was sacked may have been disagreeable, but it was entirely the correct decision. Under Hughes, City had no game-plan, simple as that. He used his players incorrectly, and languished in 6th place with a squad that can potentially be much better than that.

    So City sacked a manager! Shock horror! This is football, I thought we were used to this....

  • Comment number 19.

    Any real city fan that saw the majority of last season will know that robinho is an incredible player and proberly the most skillfull player in our team. I also am sick of the whole press and especially the bbc's assault on robinho. He scored 14 goals last season in his first year in the premiership, no matter what the price tag that is an imcredible achievment. Yeah, he was poor in the away games but so was the whole team! You can't ask robinho to be as good as say, ronaldo, because last season the team he had around him was far far poorer. This season, he's recovering from injury and trying to find his form. He's being eased into a completly dfferent team from last year. Plus, yesterday he was playing in a position he's never played in before as a city player, because of our injury crisis he had to play as an out and out striker. And how is it that even when man city win and keep a clean sheet at home the press is still all over robinho's back! Once the team is settled and robinho is fully match fit, which i don't believe he is at the moment, the he will be one of the best players in the world. I think that thankfully, robinho will stay despite the unfair pressure put on him. He said recently he wants to stay for a long time and mancini seems to want him to stay, barcelona have called off their chase of him so i can't see him going anywhere.
    And i'd like to point out that it was petrov that took bellamys place ib the squad yrsterday, not robinho. Bellamys played left wing almost full time this season and plays a different role to robinho, both players will stay at city.

  • Comment number 20.

    Some of the City fans on here must have been in a different ground to me yesterday. Everyone I know was both astonished and disappointed that Robinho had been given a totally undeserved nod over Bellamy yesterday, and in that respect this article is spot on. Robinho hasn't had a decent game for us in the better part of 12 months now, and on the evidence of his tackle bottling, standing still, waiting for things to happen display yesterday, he's now transporting his invisible away form to Eastlands. Yes, he's got bags of talent, but this is one league where there is no hiding place for the fainthearted. Robi seems to think he's doing us a favour just by being here, but the truth is we've outgrown him already. As to the guy who reckons he'll end up with more goals than Bellamy this season, all I can say is gimme some of that! Free money!

  • Comment number 21.

    interesting article,phil.while i feel tevez is d player comtrolling much of the game against stoke city,n also against sunderland,the battle between bellamy and robinho is surely a dilemna for a manager.no matter how disappointed i was at the sacking of hughes,i think mancini is a perfect choice fr the people at eastlands.as far as the robinho vs bellamy debate s concerned,it is very obvious that the city fans prefer bellamy,bt given the class and the ability of robinho,isnt it a better idea to stick with him???????????

  • Comment number 22.

    @7 It is Sir Alex Ferguson not Alex Ferguson

    @9 Robinho IS World Class! The fact that he is not in form at the moment does not change this. Do you mean if Ibrahimovic plays badly for half a season then he becomes a worse striker than Bobby Zamora?

    @10 Robinho is doubtless a very important player for City. Put in another way, flair is more important than graft. Which explains why Arsenal and United have won so many trophies while Stoke has won so few! Probably also explains why Bracelona are interested in Robinho and not Bellamy!

  • Comment number 23.

    Not quite sure what you're trying to say here, Phil.
    Pleasing the crowd is not Mancini's remit. It is to get City into the top four. As an experienced coach, Mancini will find the right blend and will rotate his squad appropriately.
    I'm not certain City would have won this game under Mark Hughes.
    Of course, many of the old problems are still there, but three points answers the argument, does it not?
    If City continue to have success on the pitch, this will bring round the crowd and silence the media critics (guess who!).
    Happy New Year to you Phil. Hope you make a few good resolutions for 2010.

  • Comment number 24.

    No need for city fans to over react, I dont think the Phil has any intention to belittle or put down man city as a club rather express the questionability in which the way the club is being run and also questioning a player who without doubt has talent but struggles to put it out consistently.

    There was without doubt a much bigger reception for bellamy than robinho, that was noticeable to anyone watching and surely that is a talking point.

    The facts are Robinho was woefully poor and did not contribute to the game like the brazilian star we know he can be.

    I think where Phil has gone wrong is with his empathy towards bellamy (beacuse he has some sympathy with bellamy perhaps?) On their day there is no question who is the better footballer,who could contribute more to the club and with Robinho age is also more on his side. City dont need to sell for the money so neither need to go for financial reasons. Start of the season aside Bellamy has been a hit and miss player (never one of my favourites), goes on a great run of games but then messes it all up with idiotic antics, injury or falling out with people. As disrubtors between the two Bellamy is potentially far more damaging to a team than Robinho.

    If city have aspirations of becoming a top team then they its players like a raring robinho that will get them there and not the sporadic efforts of players like bellamy.

    Clearly the paranoia of some city fans is going into overdrive.

    Oh and Phil loooks like that Liverpool prediction is going to haunt you for the rest of your life, emotions getting the better of you? (I take it you have a soft spot for them?)

  • Comment number 25.

    I have never rated Robinho that highly at any time. He flatters to deceive in my opinion. If he is for sale, who is going to buy him considering the price, wages and baggage that comes with him? The question here is Bellamy or Robinho? Why not get rid of both? If city has so much money, buy David Villa and Frank Ribery.

  • Comment number 26.

    #18: I couldnt have put it better myself, if you are a Man Utd fan I salute you for your honesty.

    The truth is the BBC are pushing against an open door, its about stimulating interest in an article or a programme. On last nights MOTD Lineker invited Shearer to take a cheap shot at City over the sacking of Hughes even though it had been covered in full the week before!
    The excuse given was that Shearer was not around last week to ask, therefore I assume every pundit on the BBC books will in turn be invited to take a shot.

    They also ran a negative piece on Robinho, is a theme developing? I think so.

    In truth Bellamy cannot play twice in 48 hours he never did for Hughes and you would prefer him away from home for his work rate, if City didnt have a game for a week I think Bellamy would have played but why let that get in the way of a well established theme.

    And of course Robinho is just coming back from injury, yes he was poor yesterday but I don’t see why we need a Bellamy or Robinho debate, they are different types of player and can do different jobs at different times, they should both stay.

    Come on Phil, you are better than this nonsense.

  • Comment number 27.

    The truth Phil, is that Mancini has a better track record than Hughes. The team was greatly entertaining under Hughes but it would not score high marks for balance.

    Mancini worked on that yesterday and you could see the results. The forwards have to fend more for themselves. True Robinho was not as lethal but lets not forget he is back from injury, he needs time to re-adjust.

    Players who are less technical are at risk of being exposed in this system and we already saw some glimpses yesterday. People were calling for the head of Kolo Toure last week. I fail to find a reason for him being singled out as he did not do worse than Lescott who by the way cost more than him.

    The crowd may as Mancini to stay with Bellamy. An indeed, he will stay with him, don't you worry about that. But when the same fans see Robinho & co in full flight with Bellamy maybe unable to match their level of skill, passion and execution, they will be the first to start being pissed off.

    Arsenal saw that with Walcott. The fans were being him always and forgive because he is English. But many of the same fans are now calling for him to be sold to a Championship team.

    On your constant defending of Hughes, you would perhaps have to give more thought as to why he was sacked. You mentioned he lost only 2 matches but how many did he win after splashing out money like Real Madrid.

    Wait and see, my friend.



  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    If there's one quality in players that English (and indeed Scottish, Welsh, and Irish) fans hate, it's laziness. Robinho just cannot be bothered to play for City, and he's not good enough to be a disinterested presence that occasionally contributes flashes of brilliance. He should go in January, but I fear that Mancini (as the flashy owner's man) will introduce more players like him rather than the tireless and honest -if unlovable- Bellamy.

  • Comment number 30.

    Well then! Welcome Man City fans to the goldfish bowl that is borne out of expectation. Get used to "silly" articles over-analysing individual players, get used to expected success and the abyss of the fallout when not reached. Get used to your club now, finally, being one of the big boys.
    Get used to speculation surrounding the future of manager, players, & staff. Get used to principles being thrown out the window as hard business decisions are given preference over "how things should be done". Get used to the jealousy, bias, hatred of anyone not a City fan who doesn't like the fact that it happened to your club and not theirs. Get ready for "dry-day" and "armchair supporters" in their drovessuddenly becoming City fans and crying from the rooftops of the club's success.
    But this is what City fans wanted: finally, to be recognised as a big club. Well, you've got it; and all the trappings. Remember the circus surrounding Chelsea when Abramovitch took over? For Chelsea read City. This is what City have bought into and this is what awaits them over the next couple of years; hatred if successful, derision if not.

    Have fun...

  • Comment number 31.

    32 years and won,?????its nearly late pantomine time,dont forget to bring your watches dont want you crying too soon!!!!!!!! manager at your local asda,could run CITY;/

  • Comment number 32.

    Very amusing that City fans love Bellamy. He's definitely a good player, and should be in that team, but he's known throughout football as an right little twerp. A match made in heaven.

  • Comment number 33.

    Phil, I don't think your article was negative at all. Just honest.

    You suggest that Bellamy is more favoured by us than Robbie. For those who disagree, watch the footage. He got a standing ovation when he was warming up.

    You suggest that Robbie should go before Bellamy. Again i agree. Watch Robinhos reaction on being subbed at Spurs. Not good enough.

    As City fans we have had very little to shout about for the last 30 years but we have always had the same approach. If a player walks off the pitch and has given 100% for the shirt, he will be cheered. we respect fighters; players who want the same as us. Even those who are not blessed with ability are welcomed and encouraged because we identify with hard work. This is not negative against robinho just pro Bellamy. Robinho needs more consistency. The expectation weighs heavy on his shoulders, but he has to learn that he needs to produce for the team not himself. Last season he was great in spells but too often anonymous. When Bellamy is not having a great game at least he tracks back to stop their full back. Robinho will go before Bellamy, because he wants to.

    On the subject of Mancini, I wish him well. However I cannot understand the talk of him being replaced in the summer. That just does not make sense. Why pay out all that money for a few months. May as well have kept Hughes, who was not doing that badly. If you want a new guy then just wait till the summer and get him then.

  • Comment number 34.

    I don't think the City fans are being sensitive. Blind maybe. If you can't see what effect that Bellamy has had on your team this season and how poor Robinho was away from home most of last season perhaps you shouldn't bother showing your ignorance in public forums? :) Bellamy has single handedly carried City in many games this season when players like Adebayor and Tevez failed to turn up. Also disappointingly Ireland hasn't been the player that he was last season this one and I would think that getting him back to full form is more important than Robinho. I think Pep Guardiola has probably had a look at the tapes of Robinho and realised he is too lazy to play for Barcelona which is why he has ended all interest in him. Don't think that any other teams have the cash to buy him or they have better players all ready (Kaka, Ronaldo) so this discussion is moot anyway. Robinho won't be going anywhere.

  • Comment number 35.

    This kind of journalism baffles me, trying to find fault where there's none. Robinho has been out for 3 months and has only come back, but anyone can clearly see he gives City that creativity that unlocks tight defenses. He did well alone upfront last season when he had mediocre support, and Bellamy has done well only because he has got more quality partners with him now (Adebayor, Tevez, Santa Cruz) whereas Robinho did all that by himself. I doubt Bellamy would have been such a hit had he played alone upfront or with people like Boijnov (no offence)

    Give Robinho a few games playing alongside the three mentioned above and you will be eating humble pie Mr McNulty. Brazil is the best side in the world, and any player who starts for such as team is world class, period. If Brazil fail to win the world cup they will be regarded as failures no matter how far they go in the competition.Thats how high they have raised the bar, and if England make the semis that will be regarded as success.

    This article smacks of anti-foreign bias, why hate foreign players all the time? I am an Arsenal fan but City are a more decent side this time round and no one can argue with that, to me they are more exciting apart from arsenal the way they play, and thanks to people like Robinho. You are probably waiting for them to lose a single match and you will be back here bashing Mancini and the City owners. Why don’t you write your well researched articles when united lose at teams like Fulham? Please stop the bias, its not doing you any good, and to be frank its getting a bit boring reading these ‘imaginary crises’ at teams you clearly don’t like for reasons best known to you.

  • Comment number 36.

    Robinho was far too sulkish and up himself at Madrid and if anything it has got worse at Man City. As a 'pool fan I hope you keep him and sell Bellamy because I know who I'm more scared of when I see their name on the team sheet and he isn't Brazilian. The injuries are no excuse, he just doesn't produce. When Bellamy is fit and playing he is a guaranteed goalscorer and a real threat in every game, as we saw at Blackburn, occasionally at Liverpool then at West Ham and now Man City. There is no anti-foreign bias whatsoever, other players have proven themselves whether at previous prem league clubs or at city, Adebayor, Tevez, Petrov, theyve all done as much if not more than Robinho. He hasnt consistently produced since he left Santos all those years ago, if he is to be considered in the same breath as the greatest players in the world, he needs to start making a difference whenever he is on the pitch, not lackadaisically drifting around the pitch chipping in with a goal or a stepover once every blue moon. Tevez and Bellamy either side of big Ade would worry me more 10 times out of 10 over robinho playing instead of any of them.

  • Comment number 37.

    dont listen to em phil, spot on as always.

  • Comment number 38.

    Oh dear, what a terrible article....what do they pay these sports writers for?

    I was at the game and thought it was quite plain to see the difference between Hughes and Mancini managerial acumen. Yesterday, There was clearly a focus on slowing the pace of the game thus reducing the speed of transition between defence and attack. This greatly benefited our defenders since they had time to pass the ball out of defence (rather than 'hoof' it up the field as was the norm under MH) and build the attack from the back. Toure looked good yesterday, De Jong and Barry bossed the midfield, Sylvinho played well, as did Zab and Micah when he came on...

    Although this was not as exciting as under MH, it is clearly more intelligent, and a better way to play.

    .....but of course asking you to report on this would have produced a more positive footnote to Mancini's first game and would not have allowed you to once again attack my club by talking drivel....and rabble rousing with your inflamatory comments about Robinho, a player who clearly lacked match fitness after his lengthy lay off through injury.

    CTID !

  • Comment number 39.

    The article is not particularly bad nor is it good!

    What I find the most frustrating is that its lazy journalism.

    The idea that if you repeat the same story enough times make it some how more credible is some what annoying

    The focus should now be on Man management

    Its the managers job (one of the most important) to get the best out of his players be it a "Sulky Bulgarian , an arrogant German , a fragile South American or a blood and guts Englishman"

    Bellamy and Robinho as are most of the Man City team top draw players, you can argue who's best all day long ... What Mancini has to do is draw out their individual talents on a regular basis.

    Ferguson, Venger and O’Neil are experts at this hence top managers.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 10 - Yes Liverpool's relegation battle is becoming very serious isn't it? 13 points infront of Bolton at the moment, they will have to be careful they don't get sucked into the bottom 3 :P

  • Comment number 41.

    @9
    Slight poiny...
    Saying soomeone is world class only if he would get into a world 11 is a bit silly, this implies only 11 or so world class players out there, and there are more than 11 world class midfielders alone out there.

    I admit I may have overstated it, but look at the team sheet, he is one of the biggest names they've got...

  • Comment number 42.

    I am fully aware of the rule you are referring too, but that will take effect from next season (Aug 2010).

    What I said “Am also wondering whether Alex Ferguson has agreed to end his boycott to the BBC in return for two, back to back, assaults on City??” meaning if AF gives an interview to the BBC before then (Aug 2010) then it is highly likely that I will be thinking 1+1=2.
    _____________________________________________________________

    You've got to hand it to City fans. They are nothing if not entertaining. This is paranoid gibberish of the highest order, I'm afraid. If you honestly think the most successful manager of his generation is sitting in his office plotting City's downfall via the medium of some Phil McNulty blogs, then there is no hope for you.

    Still, sums City up perfectly. Too concerned with the chip on their shoulder about their neighbours to actually focus on the bigger picture.

  • Comment number 43.

    First things first..to say I have some sort of witchhunt against Manchester City is ridiculous. I criticised their performance at Liverpool (with justification) and the way they sacked Mark Hughes (with justification and along with just about every other commentator in the media)

    I praised their performances against Arsenal and Chelsea and have consistently defended them against the jealousy of supporters of other clubs envious of their spending power. I have constantly welcomed their attempts to challenge the established top four, so this allegation can be easily refuted and will be.

    I made a point of highlighting the reaction of City's fans when Bellamy came on yesterday, as did plenty of others. It was significant and I do not see how anyone can doubt that.

    Do City fans believe they should keep all three of Robinho, Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez? I don't. Who is the least effective of the three on all recent evidence, in terms of injury record, attitude and form? Robinho. To say this is some sort of anti-foreign sentiment is an argument that does not hold water. I am supporting Tevez and Bellamy after all.

    I believe it would be a mistake to sell Bellamy, as I suspect would most Manchester City supporters, and Tevez has been excellent for City. Robinho has been, at best, indifferent, especially away from home and I believe if City received a good offer they should sell.

    This is not an anti-City sentiment, it is an honest opinion and one that I am sure is shared by plenty of Eastlands regulars.

    Would you like to keep both? And would you be happy if Bellamy was sold and Robinho stayed? As ever, the platform is yours.

  • Comment number 44.

    Can I say a massive well done to Phil McNulty for saying exactly what I have been thinking for months.
    To all the Robinho fans out there, who are still saluting him for his contributons last season; maybe they should still be vilifying Tevez for scoring against us when playing for the reds; But no, as he is now wearing a blue shirt, that is ok.
    In my opinion, I would rather have one Craig Bellemy than three Robinho's and I sincerely hope that Garry Cook allows Roberto Mancini to sell him in the next transfer window.
    If I was City manager, Robinho would not even be on the subs bench; he would not get a shirt until he proved he was, firstly fit enough and secondly determined enough to fight for the City cause.
    I have no doubt Robinho, probably has more skill than every other player at the club, but that doesn't mean he can gel with the players we have; what it does is, disrupt the football we have shown we are able to produce. Unfortunately, our shambolic defence has led to the downfall of Mark Hughes, who would have certainly sorted this out, given another window to bring in the right players.
    It brings to mind a similar player who disrupted a great team; someone who was equally skillful, namely, Rodney Marsh. A great player on his day, but was unable to gel with the then superb City team of Bell, Lee, Summerbee etc etc and coincidentally, his arrival at Maine Road spelled the end of our trophy winning days.
    Now, I would like to appeal to all you Robinho-ites, who would you rather have in the team, a player who works hard for the team, both up and down the pitch, scores regularly, or one who fluffs about, then when misses the target, holds his hands over his mouth, in exclaimation for his own feeble attempt on goal, one who does little defending and is obviously disrupting a potentially great team.
    I would like to think that Robinho must have been aware of the feelings of the fans when Craig Bellemy began to warm up, seeing the applause and cheering. Then when he was finally sustituted after another appauling performance, he somehow tried to claim the applause for himself. (Pretty sad if you ask me)
    Player performance grades out of ten. Given 8 - Zabaleta 7 - Toure - 6 Lescott 6 - Richards 6 - Bridge 6 - Kompany 6 - De Jong 9 - Barry 8 - SWP 8 - Tevez 9 - Bellemy 9 - Adebayor 6 - Santa Cruz 5 - Robinho 5 Ireland 7 - Petrov 6, + others not assessed.
    I would like to point out that this is my opinion, for which we are all entitled. Thank you from a City fan, longing for success again.

  • Comment number 45.

    I agree that Bellamy has been very important for Man City this year, but to be honest, Robinho is, when on form, the best player City have.

    The question should not be whether Robinho will leave or not, but whether he can be convinced to stay and if Mancini can get the best out of him.

    There is no reason why Bellamy and Robinho can't play together and also, whilst I know a good team is not always made through individual talent, some of the players that City are alleged to be interested in might not be attracted to City if a player like Robinho leaves for Barcelona as it may indicate that he gave City a shot and they could not match his ambitions - so he left!

    Plus, a fully fit, on form and focused Robinho could make the difference between earning Champions League or Europa League football next season!

  • Comment number 46.

    Firstly to go over old ground - Hughes's sacking was indeed harsh, but it was not unfair. For a team to be making the same defensive mistakes after month 18 that they were making after month 1 indicates that not much on the defensive side is either being corrected or has any likelihood of being corrected. We were an attacking team under Hughes but we were woeful at the back and teams like Burnley had a field day with our defensive ineptitude. You don't spend £200m, let 3 goals in at home against Burnley and expect questions not to be asked.

    After just 5 days with the team, Mancini had them looking better at the back than after 18 months with Hughes. Yes, it was only Stoke, in their 2nd season in the premiership, but rememeber Stoke have beaten Spurs at White Hart Lane this season and a defence can not do any better than a clean sheet.

    Mancini does indeed face a dilemma with Robinho. Once he is match fit do you play him now to put him in the shop window or leave him out altogether before selling in the summer. Along with Adebayor. That is the dichotomy.

    Whilst players in English football can be forgiven a multitude of sins, laziness is not amongst them. Hunger, eagerness, never-say-die spirit and a will to win, alongside pace, are as highly prized as skill, technical ability and football brain. Neither Robinho nor Adebayor particularly look as though they want to be playing football, not just through body language but through movement and positioning - they go missing when needed. Carrying passengers in the premiership is never an option if your intention is to win the thing.

    The problem with Bellamy is that under successive managers he has been played when unfit so he appears to fade towards the end of his tenure with a club. I suspect Mancini rested him to give his knee time to recover. The fact is that none of our premiership opponents fear Robinho or Adebayor, but they all fear Bellamy. For that reason alone it makes sense to play Bellamy ahead of Robinho.

  • Comment number 47.

    I wonder why there was a reference to Peter Reid's dismissal in the article. Since 1994 the ownership of the club has changed several times and to metion this in 2009 is like blaming Gordon Brown for the mistakes of Harold Wilson. The reason why Peter Reid left has also been reported: misplaced loyalty to an assistant who the then Chairman wanted to replace because of his embarrassing behaviour on an overseas trip. If you are going to go that far back,why not a mention of Joe Mercer or even Paul Hart's father John who also had a short time as manager?

  • Comment number 48.

    @22 It is Mr Bobby Zamora, not Bobby Zamora.

  • Comment number 49.

    Thanks Phil for the blog- always a pleasure to read. But I don't agree with the gist of the blog.

    1. There is NO dilemma. Both players can stay in the club. At least, city is not in a cash crisis to sell one of the players.

    2. Before you judge Robinho, like others have said, you need to consider his absence due to injuries.

    So, Phil, could you please comment on the above two points?

  • Comment number 50.

    Re; "massive justification". Well you and the rest of the short-sighted media are going to look silly when City finish top 4 and possibily have a tilt at a wide open PL title, something that couldn't happen with Hughes. You in particular will look silly when Robinho shows the class Bellamy only shows under Hughes (which says something about Hughes that he can motivate a Bellamy but not a Robinho) and reminds the one one-eyed amougst your readers how good a coach Mancini is.

  • Comment number 51.

    "In much the same way as Manchester United's fans always warmed to the efforts of Carlos Tevez as opposed to the more unpredictable contribution of Dimiar Berbatov"

    ALWAYS?

    No, as ever there was a split in who should start. Personally I preferred Berbatov as he scored and contributed plenty of goals, and gave us a presence up front, and a lot of others felt the same. The Tevez bandwagon loved him for his work rate and occasional fancy goal, which okay fair enough but didn't justify his lack of regular goals/assists, especially in the league, nor did it justify £25.5million.

    You made a similar comment about City fans preferring Bellamy to Robinho.

    Don't generalise fans.

  • Comment number 52.

    Well narrated conspiracy against a club that has its own difficulties. Well comparing a players with one other is very harsh as all come from different backgrounds and eventually having different skills. Clubs need players with different skills and in this part Robinho outshines Bellamy a great deal. I will be folly to keep him out from the club specially when someone like you want to write him off. But it is not politics but a game and in this regard media manipulation have some room to conquer.

  • Comment number 53.

    Robinho gets criticised for the same reason Arsenal get criticised; because of this countries obsession for the physical side of the game.

    The fact is the average British fan and journalist would much rather see someone getting stuck in than producing a moment of breathtaking skill.

    So take my advice Robinho; forget the step-overs, just roll up your sleeves, run around the pitch like a headless chicken, cut out the diving (only English players can dive around without it being considered cheating) consistently sing the praises of Rooney and Gerrard (talk about how they would walk into the Brazil team, while mentioning how much the rest of the world fears England ahead of the WC)
    and you'll be a favourite with the fans and media in no time.

    Remember, skill may of made you a Brazilian international, it may even see you win the world cup, but in England its no substitute from being able to run around a lot and hack people down.

  • Comment number 54.

    I remember when Real Madrid bought Robinho and he was being touted as the next Pele. Although he was being being hailed on his debut, I was one of the (very) few people who wasn't particularly impressed.

    He was very lightweight and could only be effective against slow and inexperienced defenders. This was in stark contrast to Messi who kept any side back on their toes.

    If City are to meet their expectations, then they will have to eventually sell Robinho for someone who is truly world class (I hear Messi's buyout clause has increased to £250 million :)).

  • Comment number 55.

    Phil, I don't see why City can't keep all three. After all, they don't need the money.
    Don't forget either, that City picked Robinho up off Chelsea's eyebrows, so he can't have been such a ridiculous proposition as you insinuate.

    Maybe, just maybe, Robinho requires a coach with the sophistication to get the best out of a player of his quality. He's still only 25 and is impressionable.

    At the very least, there is a chance for Mancini to rotate these three players, create healthy competition and enhance their bid for top four status.

    As an aside, if City won their game in hand over Chelsea, they'd only be seven points off the pace at the top. Is it completely unthinkable in this topsy turvy season that City could run them close?

    If, as I suspect, City will now start to win games they have hitherto only been drawing, they could be a serious threat.

  • Comment number 56.

    Hi Phil, thought this was an interesting piece and as a City season ticket holder of many years standing, largely agree with your words.
    I also agree with @20 and @33 and can't help thinking that some of the other commentators aren't regulars at COMS.
    Anyway, I loved Robbie last season and yes, he has been injured but he was poor yesterday. I think he still brings something to the squad but he was extremely soft in the Stoke game. He flinched at ever tackle, even looking scared of the ball when it bounced too high in front of him. He was always quite lightweight, but he earnt the respect of City fans last season by getting stuck in and fighting, like a true blue. Yesterday, he gave the ball away a lot. He looks like he's bulked up a bit but that doesn't seemed to have translated into a more physical game. I was sad to see Hughes go, but impressed with Mancini yesterday. He's got Ireland playing - he was superb yesterday, pinging the ball about everywhere, always demanding it and showing flair. If Mancini should build a team around anyone, it's Ireland. There was a crucial point just before we scored, where Mancini slightly changed the shape of the midfield, pulling Barry back alongside De Jong and allowing Ireland to float - we scored within 5 minutes. Very impressive. Every player had more time on the ball, and Ireland was a constant outlet. Bellamy is a hero at COMS, not least for that fighting spirit and the important goals he's scored - just look at the derby game earlier this season. Mancini says he left Bellamy out to play him in the Wolves game, and I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, considering Robbie's history in away games. It was important COMS let Bellamy know how much he is loved and I hope we keep him - he's matchwinner, a fighter and despite approaching 30, still like absolute lightening on the pitch.

  • Comment number 57.

    Bellamy fitted in well with Mark Hughes ethos of playing with heart and mind as well as skill. Robinho lacked the heart and mind so his skill was never going to be enough on its own. Its a fact of life that there are some players who flatter to deceive and they bring their ego with them. I think Robinho needs to learn some maturity similar to Anelka. Only once he realises he needs more than skill to be effective will he be of any use to a club and possibly justify his reputation.

    I agree that City should keep both (I'm a ManU supporter) if Mancini wants to prove his worth beyond being a stopgap (as rumoured in today's press) then, as someone else mentioned in these replies, he has to balance all the different personalities and get the best out of them for the sake of the team.

    I'm reserving judgement on Mancini's style and tactics till I've seen themin action. I'm not a great follower of foreign leagues, EPL and championship are the best for excitement, so he's got a clean slate in my eyes. I don't think he will have an immediate effect on City's self-destructive nature but after then next 5-10 games if they aren't winning every match against teams outside the top 8 then I don't see the difference between him and Hughes.

  • Comment number 58.

    “43. At 12:56pm on 27 Dec 2009, philmcnultybbcsport wrote: First things first. to say I have some sort of witchhunt against Manchester City is ridiculous. I criticised the way they sacked Mark Hughes (with justification and along with just about every other commentator in the media)”


    Phil I totally understand and appreciate that you have an opinion, but when you miss the base facts then one must think that there is an anti City agenda, especially when the writer is known to be intellectual in his filed and could not such important facts.

    Here are two examples to point how I arrived at the “witch-hunt” conclusion:

    Hughes’ sacking article:

    You claim that Hughes was mistreated by City, but you failed to highlight that: Zab, De-Jong, Kompany, and Bridge where all Hughes’ answer to better defense, together they played for more than one full season, yet City conceded 9 goals in the last three games prior to the deservedly sacking of Hughes, that in addition to having Micah and Nadium and the additional signing, toure, Barry and Lescott.

    You have totally ignored Hughes’s unjust treatment of Petrov, and Hughes’ awful tactics. I refer to last year’s game against Liverpool when we were 2 0 up at half to thanks to mark’s delightful substitutions, we lost 2 3 and most recently Hughes awful formation against Liverpool.

    Hughes fully deserved the sack, he has achieved nothing both at Wales and Liverpool, and I wouldn’t call: 18 month shot at management, open cheque book, full public backing and 3 million quid handshake a “harsh treatment”

    Robinhoo:

    You have totally discarded the fact that robinhoo is just starting to recover from his injury, yet in a recent blog, you were calling on players to be given the time for recovery before been criticized. Why is that?

    Having Robinhoo, tevez and bellamy in one squad gives us depth. I don’t think I need to chose two out of the three, competition is a good driving force, look at Arsenal’s and Spurs’ midfiled.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think this is a good blog. Fair and balanced and far from a 'witch hunt'. On current form i would much rather have Bellamy in my starting 11 ahead of Robinho. I know Robinho did ok at City last year (actually he was very good), but i still dont think he is worth 32.5 million. He was a Real Madrid sub and Citeh just had more money than they knew what to do with it, so splashed a ludicrous amount on him. Yesterday i thought he was shocking. Almost every touch went astray. Did he do ANYTHING positive? You can't credit him for the goal as it was a mis-hit shot!

    What will be really intersting is who will Mancini select when everyone is available? Will he play with a big man down the middle or will Tevez play central? If you have a choice of Petrov/Bellamy/Robinho down the flanks. Then there is no room for Adebayor/Santa Cruz.

    Personally i would have Petrov/Tevez/Bellamy starting, but obviously this will change as peoples form changes throughout the season.

  • Comment number 60.

    Phil, ignore subsea75. I think it might be our beloved chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak in disguise. Either that or it's his mum. Very strange.

  • Comment number 61.

    #10 nice joke about Leeds trying to buy the title. You say Chelsea had a backbone hmmmm what about Robinson, Woodgate, Kelly, Harte, Batty, Smith etc etc, suppose they had nothing to do with our club when we were doing well? Radebe cost 250,000, Bowyer just a few million.

    Seriously, did you get that info from a christmas cracker?

    What about Blackburn? Did they not buy the title? And can you seriously say that Chelsea didnt buy it. Oh my lord. Blinkered. Were Lampard and Cech free signings? hahaha. What about Man Utd, i suppose they never spend huge sums of money on signings and the wages on top of this. Really, have you followed football at all?

  • Comment number 62.

    Like many others with valid comments I was at the game yesterday, what I also noticed was we got everyone back in our box for corners, when you have a leaky defence like ours that seems to make sense, it just means when the ball arrives or rebounds there isnt a lot of room and there is also a chance it will drop to a blue shirt to clear, simple but yesterday it was effective.

    Very early days for Mancini but I see the press are already speculating about is future and one paper even ran a headline along the lines that Mourinho snubbed City for Utd on the basis that someone "thought" he may want to succeed Ferguson one day, talk about "creative" journalism.

    Also nice to see sensible supporters of other clubs seeing this piece for the opportunist nonsense it was.

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 63.

    I think Bellamy has been the most valuable signing Hughsey made. Put him up for sale and watch his old pal across the city use half the cash he got for Tevez and finally get a fitting replacement for that Real Madrid chappy. Rooney and Bellamy on the break, sure fire method for teams keeping 4 back to cope. But Fergy could buy Robby, he's already stated the lads got skill, but I am 110% sure he's far to shrewd for that. I also would say Bellamy is more dangerous than Tevez

  • Comment number 64.

    I don't see Robinho as an out and out striker ,I would have him coming from behind Tevez on the right with Bellamy on the left so I don't see him clashing with Bellamy more like SWP who I think has lost the ability/confidence to beat players on the wing obviously you'd need a midfielder to do the bulk of his defensive work but that can be worked on.

    Though I don't see anything that Phil has said that makes him anti-city just honest comment ( we might think he's wrong but that doesn't make him anti-city).Oh and whoever was having a pop at our owner saying things , he has never said anything to any journalist and nor will he , that is why he has a Chairman and CEO and the sooner Cook goes the better.The owner may make the decisions but that can only be made on the advice he's given.

  • Comment number 65.

    "to what degree has the media turned to pure speculation?"
    http://www.michaelcrichton.net/speech-whyspeculate.html

    Agree about the national obsession for the physical side of the game.

  • Comment number 66.

    i'm sorry but i think everything about this article is ridiculous. i thought robinho just came back from injury and bellamy was never injured. nevertheless i think robinho would still be more preferred even by the dumbest managers in the world

  • Comment number 67.

    Bellamy needs punted post haste to anyone who will take him. 4th rate.

    Robinho is a bit of a shallow, characterless spork, but he has genuine talent - just needs a good kick up the arse.

  • Comment number 68.

    53. At 1:23pm on 27 Dec 2009, Futebol-arte wrote:

    Robinho gets criticised for the same reason Arsenal get criticised; because of this countries obsession for the physical side of the game.

    The fact is the average British fan and journalist would much rather see someone getting stuck in than producing a moment of breathtaking skill.

    So take my advice Robinho; forget the step-overs, just roll up your sleeves, run around the pitch like a headless chicken, cut out the diving (only English players can dive around without it being considered cheating) consistently sing the praises of Rooney and Gerrard (talk about how they would walk into the Brazil team, while mentioning how much the rest of the world fears England ahead of the WC)
    and you'll be a favourite with the fans and media in no time.

    Remember, skill may of made you a Brazilian international, it may even see you win the world cup, but in England its no substitute from being able to run around a lot and hack people down.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    you are my hero.

  • Comment number 69.

    Mark Hughes failed to exploit Robinho´s potential and after watching the dreary football played by Man City yesterday I feel Mancini will do the same. Having said that, I feel Robinho´s move to Man City was doomed from the start and the sooner he leaves, the better.

  • Comment number 70.

    Ohhh woopeeee .

    Well done chief sports writer another boring load of drivel about man city.

    1st it was never ending drivel about liverpool to win the title when that was shown up to be suspect we then had endless drivel about chelsea running away with it, that was then followed by even more dross about man u.

    now we have another piece about the up and comming city alledged top four contenders along with spurs and aston villa.

    well once again Arsenal put aston villa and mon capabilities into true perspective, Arsenal also thumped hull city but what do we get? new manager and city wins 1st game and all of a sudden city are again a force to be reckoned with.

    my view on city is " simples "

    they need to spend a lot more money thats for sure, im sure they will however in my opinion this lust to dislodge the top four is now demeaning the game aided and abeted by many of the sports writers on the bbc football blogs.

    I would wager that niether spurs,villa,city have what it takes to maintain a sustained inclusion into the top four and thus CL footy. All would go out in the qualifiers and then slip into mid table obscurity in the PL no matter how much money they spend.

    man city beat stoke? wow what an achievement that is a bit like this blog really its very boring, says absolutely nothing we already did not know.

    time for a big YAWN.

    PS: happy xmas fellow Gooners have an ale on me. as for you Mr Mcnulty here's a PG Tip Tea Bag go make your own.

  • Comment number 71.

    Mr Mcnulty, you just can't help yourself can you. Would you be kind enough to tell us the name of your boss.

  • Comment number 72.

    '. . . "trajectory of results" - a corporate phrase I hope I never hear again in a football context and especially when a manager loses his job -'.

    Well, it's about time. There isn't a lot of sitting on the fence with this one. This is the type of voice that honest people who care about football appreciate.

  • Comment number 73.

    bluedefence

    I'm not sure whether you noticed my previous apology, but I wonder whether you now begin to see my point? It's a slippery slope, and my thought is that management is already showing the same contempt to long-standing and, in your case, long-suffering supporters that I and others had to go through at Chelsea once Abramovic took over. Chelsea isn't my club anymore: I wonder how long it will be before you look upon your own with like embarrassment. I didn't rate Hughes as a manager at Man City, but this treatment was abominable. Your club will already have suffered and will continue to so so in the longrun. Now get ready for the worst people in society to start wearing your colours rather than mine.

  • Comment number 74.

    City are not a selling team anymore. if they want to keep him just for the fun of it and as a back-up to Bellamy and Tevez, they can. Money isn't an issue. I don't here anybody clamouring for Ferguson to sell Berbatov? Nobody cares if he sells him or keeps him, they just don't think he should play in any important games, and they want a big name to go to old Trafford. This is old time thinking by Phil, and other commentors.
    Anyway, Mancini see the game differently than Hughes, and I think you might see a better Robinho in the coming months, probably playing most of the home games. It makes sense to play Bellamy way from home where is high energy antics, can create bother with defenders.
    Robinho still has a very good shout at making the first team for Brazil in South Africa, and he will soon realise that a little more commitment is needed to ensure of this.

  • Comment number 75.

    Anyone who watched Robinho yesterday could see he wasn't interested and the fans were getting increasingly angry with him. Last season he showed us some of his skill and goal scoring abilities but it's clear his heart isn't at this club so we should let him go to whoever will take him.

  • Comment number 76.

    Phil, this is one of those analyses that I look at and wonder.. Problem is that you people in England over analyse simple situations and come to, franly, silly conclusions. A half blind cat can see that Robinho is classes above Bellamy. Who is Bellamy? Robinho is a main player for Brazil who are most likely going to win the next WC!
    Carry on with you non-sensical analysis Phil. We'll see whether Liverpool win the PL this season, and whether your England team with Beckham, Heskey and yor favo - Micheal Owen - will win the WC. And of course, Rooney will make it happen! Where else do you see this type of reasoning? BBC pundtry- where else!

  • Comment number 77.

    Bellamy was rested yesterday. Robinho will be on the bench at Wolves.
    City fans love Craig Bellamy more than any other supporters of the clubs he's ever played at. He's runaway Player of the Season so far. If he leaves City it'll be because he wants to go, not because we want to sell him. Mancini will also want to see what he can do with Robinho at least until the end of the season.

  • Comment number 78.

    I find the constant criticism of Manchester City in the media in the wake of Mark Hughes sacking rather pathetic. Mark Hughes was out of his depth and despite spending hundreds of millions of pounds he was unable to deliver a winning side. City had every right to remove him. They gave him the opportunity to prove himself but he showed that he was not up to the task.

    City have hired a manager with a proven track record for winning titles. The attitude shown by the media towards Mancini has been very rude and ignorant.

    The point regarding the value of Bellamy in relation to Robinho is enough to make your toes curl. Bellamy has a reputation for falling out with fellow players and managers yet you believe he is the better bet in the long term. All I have to say to that is don't gamble with my money.

    City fans know quality when they see it. Robinho is real quality. He will now have the opportunity to flourish with a manager that has handled top quality players in the past such as Ibrahimovich and knows how to bring the best out of them.

  • Comment number 79.

    Well of course Robinho is upset. Firstly he cannot understand why he isn't playing for Chelsea in London and secondly why he isn't playing in a red shirt every week in Manchester. He probably still thinks he is turning out for United's reserve team each week.

  • Comment number 80.

    I would put Robinho in the same bracket as Cristiano Ronaldo when he joined Man Utd. Ronny seemed like an irritable character in the Utd dressing room, and I wouldn't be surprised with Robinho was any different. Ronaldo really started coming to the fore with Utd in 2006 - three years after he joined the Old Trafford club, so we should cut Robby some slack - he's too good a player not to become a failure at City.

  • Comment number 81.



    73. At 7:18pm on 27 Dec 2009, Coweslepe wrote:
    bluedefence
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes, noted and accepted.

    To be honest I am very bored with all the Man City stories and I have a season ticket, even if they were all saying "Man City are great" it would still be very boring.

    In a way what first attracted me to City was the fact that they existed but without being noticed, yes the novelty of winning things IF it ever happens would be great, but if it means we become McManCity then it probably wont be for me.

  • Comment number 82.

    As an Arsenal man I have no axe to grind regarding the dismissal of M.H. However no-one seems to have considered the impact the January transfer window must have had on the situation.
    The 0-3 defeat at Tottenham merely confirmed Man C's. decision to dismiss M.H. when they did.
    The reasoning was simple...with the January transfer window only two weeks away Man C. could not afford M.H. to remain as manager and be involved in the transfer of players in January.
    It is obvious that no potential new manager would have accepted the position without the option of a couple of weeks with the players prior carrying out his own dealings in the transfer market.
    While Man C. obviously had been talking to other possible new managers, Mancini was unattached and therefore available immediately, hence the decision to act much easier.
    Whether firing M.H. was a correct decision is another debate entirely and I am amazed that Man.C. did not explain during their press conferences the dilema that would have been created had the decision not been carried out when it did. Surely that would have gone a long way towards making the whole situation more acceptable and lessened the impression of behind the scenes deceit.



  • Comment number 83.

    "However no-one seems to have considered the impact the January transfer window must have had on the situation." (Post #82 by Blackstockwatcher)

    Oh really? Are you absolutely sure that no one has considered this impact? Perhaps you should go read post #332 on this blog thread: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/philmcnulty/2009/12/hughes_harshly_treated_by_man.html

    The decision to sack Mark Hughes was wrong IMO - he was close enough to meeting his end-of-season targets not to merit such a knee-jerk reaction by City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak and CEO Garry Cook. The method by which Mark's dismissal was carried out (where he was virtually the last person to know) was also downright wrong, from both a moral and a PR perspective. At the end of the day the actual execution of Sparky's dismissal - in particular, the leaking of the news to the media and the subsequent Monday morning press conference - was handled in an abysmally incompetent manner.

    However, the fact that the chairman and CEO actually had a Plan B in place and that, once they felt that they needed to, they executed that plan quickly and abruptly (if not with anywhere near the finesse and tact that they should have shown) is actually to their credit. If MH had to go then the upcoming transfer window dictated that he had to go when he did ... or not at all this season.

    Whether MH really had to go, and the overall comedy of errors in which the execution of his dismissal ultimately resulted, are both separate issues from the timing of his firing, which was probably as late as it could have been if a Plan B was to be executed to any good effect (and, of course, the jury is still out on that one and will be for a couple of months yet). Should Hughes have been sacked right now? Very debatable. Should Hughes have been sacked in the manner that he was? Most definitely not. Should Hughes have been sacked when he was (effectively, on the back of sound defeats of Arsenal and Chelsea)? Yes, most definitely so, because if he had to go, he had to go in time for the new manager to take full advantage of the January transfer window.


  • Comment number 84.

    "If Cook is so keen on 'trajectory of results' - a corporate phrase I hope I never hear again in a football context and especially when a manager loses his job - then he must hope it is onward and upward under Mancini." (original blog by Phil McNulty)

    With a victory in his first game against Stoke City Roberto Mancini has achieved the maximum 3 points possible. That's a 100% record for the new City manager. Based on Mancini's current "trajectory of results" I predict that Manchester City will now do the treble this year, winning every game they play for the rest of the season to lift the Carling Cup, the FA Cup, and the EPL Championship with 92 points (having accumulated 60 points out of their remaining 20 games).

    Also, based on Garry Cook's current "trajectory of results" WRT his insistence on selling Richard Dunne against both his and MH's wishes, his "bottling" of the Kaka deal, and now his graceful handling of MH's dismissal, I think he should also reap his due reward too. After all, as a former Nike employee he, of all people, should fully appreciate the traditional Christmas spirit of both giving and receiving the boot.

  • Comment number 85.

    Hey Phil, how about reading this article before your next blog (tonight vs Wovles I presume)

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/dec/28/premier-league-manchester-city-stoke-city

    am also surprised that none of you have come up with the 'Mancini-reaps-benefits-from-foundations-laid by Hughes' drivel yet?

  • Comment number 86.

    Frankly I think the points of interest about yesterday's game were Bellamy not starting and City keeping a clean sheet for the first time since..............well keeping a cleaning sheet.
    ( someone will probably pop up and tell me they did it two games ago or something. )
    As for Robhinio being embarassing? Who was embarassed? Surely not you Phil?
    Interesting reaction from City fans all the same.

  • Comment number 87.

    Robhinio is a waste of talent. Couldn't cut it at Madrid and he will only show his abilities sporadically.

    He will win some games for City, might even get them into the top 4, but need far better players if they ever want to mount a championship challenge.

  • Comment number 88.

    "The test may come when 2010 is ushered in. If one of Mancini's early decisions was to prefer Robinho to Bellamy against Stoke, then his next may be to decide which one to keep in the transfer window. There should only be one out of the door if it happens - Robinho." (original blog by Phil McNulty)

    The above quoted statement shows why the whole premise behind Phil's blog is completely bogus. Robinho was NOT "preferred" over Bellamy on Saturday because those two players don't normally play the same position. It was Martin Petrov that was "preferred" over Bellamy if anybody was "preferred" over anyone. The truth of the matter is that Petrov was recalled into the starting offensive midfield lineup while Bellamy was rested on the bench. If Santa Cruz hadn't have been injured after the Sunderland game Robinho would probably have stayed on the bench for the Stoke game too, but since both Adebayor and Santa Cruz were injured Robinho had to start alongside Tevez.

    Manchester City have four out-and-out strikers - Tevez, Adebayor, Santa Cruz and Robinho - and four offensive midfield players - Wright-Phillips, Petrov, Ireland and Bellamy. But what's in a title? In any club other than Man. City any one of their four offensive midfield players would be considered to be a leading goal-scoring striker. SWP and Bellamy both actually play as wingers much of the time although they both track back much deeper into midfield than old-fashioned wingers would have done. Robinho also sometimes plays the role of winger although that was not his assigned role against Stoke.

    Whatever label one wants to put on them, City had four offensive players in their starting 4-2-3-1 lineup for the Stoke game - Tevez, Ireland, Robinho and Petrov - with Tevez as the sole frontrunner and the other three playing a little deeper behind him, with Ireland on the right and Petrov on the left. That left-of-center forward position is normally where Bellamy plays when he is in the starting lineup although he'll play it as a more traditional left-winger, while Petrov will play it more as a traditional inside-left. Since SWP, RSC and Manu were all out injured that left Bellamy as the only offensive substitute on the bench to cover all four of those positions.

    Thus one would have expected that whichever of the four forwards came off the pitch early and had to be substituted would be replaced by Bellamy; unless, of course, it was to be a tactical substitution where Mancini wanted to make his team more defensive by swapping out a forward for a midfield or defensive player. The fact that Robinho was in the starting lineup with Bellamy on the bench does NOT mean that Robinho is "preferred" over Bellamy, any more than the fact that Bellamy replaced Robinho means that Bellamy is "preferred" over Robinho ... or the fact that Adebayor, SWP or RSC were not even in the team (because they were all out injured) means that both Robinho and Bellamy are in any way "preferred" over all of them.

    One could perhaps expect such a primary school level of reasoning from an eight year but one would have hoped for something a little more mature from a so-called chief BBC Sports football correspondent. Similarly, since Bellamy and Robinho don't even compete for the same forward roles there is absolutely no decision to be made by Mancini as to which one of them goes or stays in the next transfer window. That suggestion is as crassly stupid as speculating whether Mancini needs to decide whether Tevez or Given has to go in the January transfer window. That whole aspect of the blog is pure unadulterated tripe.

    What might have made a much more interesting talking point for this blog is Mancini's choice of substitutes for that Stoke game. Like most other EPL managers Mark Hughes normally chose his substitute bench so that it consisted of a backup goalkeeper, two defenders, two midfielders and two strikers. For the last few games Petrov and Weiss have been MH's regular substitute midfielders, while his two defenders and strikers have changed each match depending on who got rotated in or out due to injury and form. For the Spurs game Santa Cruz and Benjani were the substitute strikers whilst Adebayor and Robinho (who both started but disappointed against Spurs) were then dropped back to the bench for the Sunderland game to make way for Santa Cruz and the return of Bellamy after his one match suspension for his bogus red card against Bolton Wanderers.

    For the Stoke City game, Mancini's six outfield substitutes were: Richards (DF), Garrido (DF), Vidal (DF), Boyata (DF), Weiss (MF), Bellamy (ST). That is FOUR defenders for a home game against a side with the worst attack in the EPL (viz. Stoke have scored the fewest goals of any team - only four in all of their away fixtures). Clearly the choice of so many defenders was not due to a fear that Man. City would be bombarded by an offensive onslaught by Stoke - at least, one would hope not - but was more a reflection of the fact that Mancini wanted as much flexibility as possible for swapping out any non-performers in his chosen starting back four. That tells me that his focus is exactly where it should be in fixing the problems in the team that caused his predecessor to be so unceremoniously dismissed last weekend.

    The choices of Garrido, Vidal and Boyata - the latter two being products of City's Academy who got their first ever first team call-up by Mancini - also tells me that the new manager was confident enough to experiment quite a bit with the makeup of his first team (albeit only the subs) despite the fact that he was under a lot of pressure to win his debut game against Stoke in order to help silence many of the critics of the choice to replace Mark Hughes.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    First things first..to say I have some sort of witchhunt against Manchester City is ridiculous. I criticised their performance at Liverpool (with justification) and the way they sacked Mark Hughes (with justification and along with just about every other commentator in the media)
    _________________________________________________________________________

    All this you did before this latest blog. Why the obsession with Cite? How about the this latest blog about Bellamy and Robinho? Two players - a whole blog? This should, under normal circumstances, be a nothing. Yet you spend lines of text and plenty of your time on this. A nothing subject!
    So Mark Hughes was sacked, just like Martin Jol, Filipe Scolari, Jose Mourinho, Juande Ramos, Avram Grant. Where was the bru haha from you and "every other commentator in the media" when these decent men were sacked as publicaly as it happened? Maybe those were different cases, to me it looks like Cite are an easy target - a soft punching bag that every mediocre footballing pundit can have thier field day with..
    ______________________________________________________________________

    I made a point of highlighting the reaction of City's fans when Bellamy came on yesterday, as did plenty of others. It was significant and I do not see how anyone can doubt that.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    So you must have felt vindicated. Cite fans clearing your name of any perceived bias..
    Why is Bellamy the centre piece of your blog anyway. There is no denying that he is a good player, but he is also convenient to use to forward your anti-foreign sentiments, isn't he?
    It has been metioned before and I'll repeat it. The way media England has treated Cite and it's leadership is a disgrace. It has been over the top and an overaction that stinks anti-foreigness. This is not the first time a manager has been fired and you have made a mountain out of a mole hill.
    You, Phil, are acusing Robinho of milking cheers that were meant for Bellamy, but you could not resist taking the very same opportunity to milk it for what its worth. Even write a whole blog about it! It is Cite after all.
    Enough said. This obsession with City is getting boring now.

  • Comment number 91.

    "With friends like Bellamy, who needs Robinho?" (original blog by Phil McNulty)

    One might also ask, with blogs like this one, who needs sensational scandal sheets such as The News of the World or The National Enquirer?

    And for those people who keep claiming that Robinho is so unhappy being at Man. City, or at life in Manchester, or just generally being in Britain, you might want to take a gander at this video: http://www.mcfc.co.uk/Video/Interviews/Sylvinho-and-Robinho-sing-Citys-praises

    He appears to me to be pretty happy with his current lot in life. Of course the bloggers that work for BBC Sports can't make a sensational tabloid-type blog out of the fact that Robinho is currently quite content playing for City.

  • Comment number 92.

    Interesting to read some of my colleagues in the media today who also made the same points as myself about Robinho's poor performance on Saturday and questioning his future role under Roberto Mancini.

    I have been kind compared to some - but I do not disagree with them either. It is perfectly legitimate to pose the question about Robinho and we are right to do so - a very valid argument. Not a witchhunt against Manchester City, not anti-foreign player sentiment. I am sure plenty of City fans were discussing Robinho's contribution after the game. I know plenty were around me.

    Working out what to do with Robinho will be a major part of Mancini's task at Eastlands and in some respects the argument is not whether the Brazilian is content at City, but whether City are content with him.

    I am perfectly happy for people to vehemently disagree, this is what this forum is all about and I welcome constructive discussion, but I also stand by my assertions about Robinho.

  • Comment number 93.

    "Frankly I think the points of interest about yesterday's game were Bellamy not starting and City keeping a clean sheet for the first time since..............well keeping a cleaning sheet.
    ( someone will probably pop up and tell me they did it two games ago or something. )"
    (Post #86 by collie21)

    It was actually 5 games ago in the 3-0 defeat of Arsenal in the Carling Cup. You must be a Gunners supporter to have erased that from your memory so quickly! :)

  • Comment number 94.

    "I am perfectly happy for people to vehemently disagree, this is what this forum is all about and I welcome constructive discussion, but I also stand by my assertions about Robinho." (Post #92 by Phil McNulty)

    What assertions? That he has not been playing at all well since his return from injury? That he put in a very mediocre performance against Stoke? I don't believe anyone would disagree with you over assertions such as those? But your assertion that Mancini has to decide who to shed in January - Robinho or Bellamy - is pure sensationalist drivel designed to simply wind people up. Neither player competes for the same team role and neither player wants to leave so the speculation is meaningless. If Mancini is worth his salt he will also want to keep both players at the club as they are both valuable assets to the squad.

    "Working out what to do with Robinho will be a major part of Mancini's task at Eastlands and in some respects the argument is not whether the Brazilian is content at City, but whether City are content with him." (Post #92 by Phil McNulty)

    I suspect that was a problem that was presented to Mancini by Garry Cook, before he was even hired for the job, as a means of determining if he was a suitable candidate for the position. You can already see Mancini's effort to address the issue of how to get Robinho to raise his game by his statement (which was also an indirect challenge to Robinho) that he was a player capable of writing the club's history (as they start to win trophies) in the same manner that Mancini did himself as a player for 15 years at Sampdoria. During his first week at City Mancini also went out of his way on a number of occasions to publicly praise Robinho as a player.

    Mancini has also fibbed a little in order to protect his Brazilian star from potential criticism when he said he played well for him against Stoke and he only substituted him because he was tired. Most of us would not entirely agree with that performance assessment and substitution rationale. Each of these little things Mancini does and says helps to win over the allegiance of his squad of players and to instill them with confidence and pride and a desire to perform for him. The reason Bellamy is playing so well for City right now is because Mark Hughes had exactly the right chemistry to inspire the best out of him, and in the same manner Mancini will work out to do the same with him and all the others.

    He may be the most successful at motivating a different set of players than Hughes was the most successful at motivating, but that will simply be a reflection of the fact that he is a different person than Hughes. You won't find a more loyal supporter of Hughes than Shay Given, yet Hughes never came out and publicly declared him to be one of the best five goalkeepers in the world. A little bit of Italian braggadocio perhaps - but who can contradict him? - nevertheless a fine piece of public motivational praise for one of his very best players. Mancini's man management skills are already evident IMO.

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    Moderators: has really BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION issued a censorship policy??? really???

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    Yeah! I realize the mr. Phil is probably modarating complaint to him by himself.
    GREAT!!!

    Perhaps I must have been mistaken, this is not the official BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION website: wshould be a cloned fake.

  • Comment number 100.

    Whether is there any actual civilized moderator I would like to give him the benefit of a fair dubt:
    I would agree to add on my original CENSORED post the following statement:
    "the author of the present post acknowledge that the following is entirely intended to be a personal opinion and nor whatsoever be deemed to be understood its content is supported by any kind of probation neither clue whatsoever"
    Obviolsly such statement is not allowed to be publised separately.

    Should the censore still stand with that endorsement, well! enjoy the pride of yourself!
    Is this blog on football or on general election???
    Now Im gonna logout, as this place is very much disgusting myself.

 

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