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Robinho in urgent need of fresh start

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Tim Vickery | 09:51 UK time, Monday, 16 August 2010

Robinho is in footballing limbo. He sat out Manchester City's opening game of the Premier League campaign and although he might be in action in midweek in the Europa League, or possibly playing his football somewhere else before the end of the month, he needs to sort things out fast because this is a huge season for him.

I well recall his debut in the Brazilian Championship for an astonishingly young Santos side that went on to lift the title. That was eight years ago. Eight years from now, Robinho will be 34 going on 35, so his time at the top has probably already passed the halfway mark and yet a huge question mark still hangs over him.

There is no escaping the fact that so far he has been a big disappointment in European club football and it would be unfair to pin all the blame for this on the clubs he has played for - because even after playing some 80 times for Brazil, the same doubts surround him at international level..

robinho_blog_getty.jpgRobinho captained Brazil and starred in their 2-0 win over the United States. Photograph: Getty

In World Soccer magazine's South Africa 2010 preview, I wrote that Robinho was looking "to dismiss the claims that he is physically and mentally lightweight on the big occasion." He did not do so.

But in all those 80 games for Brazil, few of his performances - if any - were better than the one he gave last week in the 2-0 win away to the United States. Given the responsibility of captaining Brazil's young side, he was the star attraction on a night for the purist.

Abandoning the counter-attacking strategy they had embraced for so long, Brazil's game, under new coach Mano Menezes, was based on possession of the ball. Their fluid and imaginative display was aided by having the extra man in midfield - their 4-2-3-1 against the 4-4-2 of the US - but it was Robinho who ensured they got full value from the advantage.

He floated in from the right to make the extra man, orchestrating the swift passing movements, starting fires the US defence were unable to put out. There have been games where Robinho has tried many more stepovers - but few matches where he has made himself so important to the team, where his extraordinary individual talent was placed at the service of the collective.

Of course, it is extremely unwise to attach too much importance to international friendlies, especially in August. But if this talent is there, and if this willingness to work for the team exists, why is he unable to show it week in week out?

Perhaps his coaches have not worked hard enough to understand him. More to the point, perhaps he has not worked hard enough to understand himself and the situation in which he finds himself.

Like a fair proportion of South American players, Robinho appears to thrive on affection, on being made to feel important. Being given the captain's armband, for example, appeared to do him a power of good for Brazil last week. It was like having favoured son status.

Paternalistic relations are part of Brazilian society and football. After losing his managerial post at Chelsea, Luiz Felipe Scolari complained that his relationship with many of his squad had been "only" professional - as if something had been missing. His Brazil squad in 2002 were known as 'the Scolari family' but he was unable to recreate the same ties and hierarchies with a multi-national squad in a northern European country.

Robinho has never been part of a 'Scolari family', though, of course, his intention when he cried his way out of Real Madrid was to link up with Big Phil at Chelsea, only to find his way to Manchester City instead. But he seems to have struggled with the same problem, an inability to adapt to different cultural values.

robinho_santos_reuters.jpgRobinho joined Santos on loan last season and won the State Championship. Photograph: Reuters

There are also technical reasons for Robinho's problems in Europe. He is a player who thrives on confidence, and it is much easier for him to take on his markers in domestic Brazilian football where the balance is tipped in his favour by the knowledge that if he can't get past his man, he is likely to be given a free-kick for the slightest physical contact. Put him in a more rigorous environment and he seems diminished.

At heart, though, the cultural and the technical differences come down to the same thing, a desire for protection. Like a spoilt son, he appears to want a guaranteed first team place because of who he is, but in Europe he is going to be judged on what he does. Merit is the criteria.

In the deep squads of a big European club there is no such thing as a guaranteed first team place, he has to earn it.

Sulking when he is substituted or left out is no solution. The answer lies in working to show his coach and his colleagues that his ability is useful to the team - just as he did for Brazil last Tuesday against the US.

"Football in Europe is hard," Robinho said earlier this year when he was loaned back to Santos. "The coach doesn't always pick you." Admittedly, the move back was largely motivated by a desire to stay in shape for the World Cup, but it also came across as the option of a little kid wanting to return to the womb to escape his problems.

The time to grow up has arrived. Approaching 27, with two World Cups behind him, in football terms Robinho is a veteran - with limited time to fulfil his potential. Here's hoping he can sort himself out, whether at Manchester City or elsewhere. The player who captained Brazil last week is worth saving.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) Could you tell me anything about Javier Pastore and Mathias De Federico, who were in the same Huracan team a couple of years back? Where are they now, and are they the future of Argentine football or just two in a long line of 'the next Maradonas who ultimately collapse under the pressure?
Harvey Burgess

A) They complemented each other so well in that attractive Huracan side, Pastore the languid playmaker and De Federico the little gnat-like support striker. It's a shame they were separated.

Their fates have been very different. Pastore went to Palermo and adapted better and more quickly to Italian football than even his admirers thought he would. He was in the World Cup squad, made a few substitute appearances and looks like being an important player for the future. De Federico, meanwhile, went to Corinthians in Brazil and has struggled to make much of an impression.

Q) I really need to know something, why do Mexican teams play in both South America's Copa Libertadores and the Concacaf Champions league?
Luke Vooght

A) Because money makes a very persuasive argument. Mexico is in Concacaf, so that one is easily explained. And the Mexicans are invited into the Libertadores for financial reasons - it means access to a market of over 100 million for the tournament sponsors.

Last week's column dealt with this - and the fact that, if a Mexican club wins the competition then it is not allowed to represent South America in the World Club Cup. This year, for the second time, there is a Mexican club in the final - but 2-1 down from the home leg against Internacional of Brazil, it seems unlikely that Chivas Guadalajara will be lifting the trophy after Wednesday's return match.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Very good article. I think Robinho has the potential to be the best player in the world if he works harder. On the pitch he doesn't seem that interested. I thought that he was one of Brazil's better players in South Africa. The system where he doesn't have to track back is the only way to play him. Unfortunately very few teams can afford luxury players these days.

    I was wondering what are your opinions on Neymar?. He is very similar to Robinho in terms of career. I haven't had a chance to watch him closely. Does he work hard for the team? Will he settle better in Europe?. Do you believe he is ready for a move to Europe, like Pele does?

  • Comment number 2.

    Good blog summarising the strengths and weaknesses of the guy very well. He'll be happier in Brazil as I don't think he can cut it in European football, which doesn't make him a bad player, clearly he is happier in his comfort zone. He had an okay WC, though his petulant, angry display against the Dutch showed him up very badly. Needs to concentrate on his football as opposed to what he imagines is his 'star' quality

  • Comment number 3.

    I've been reading a lot about another young player at Santos who my club Chelsea seem to be desperate to sign - Neymar... I dont know a lot about him, although I've been shown a video or two and he looks like a very good prospect, what do you know of him and do you think he would be a good signing for Chelsea?

  • Comment number 4.

    I think you hit the nail firmly on the head Tim with your appraisal that Robinho is one of those players who needs to feel loved and to be centre of attention..witness his arrival at Man City where the fan-fare created by his arrival saw him produce some of his best performances in a Sky-Blue shirt. As more stars arrived and pressure to continue his good form increased he lost all interest and had to thrust himself back into the limelight with his move back to Brazil..helicopter arrival and Pele introduction included.

    He's a very irritating kind of footballer in that we all know the immense talent is there, but unless he's firmly no.1 centre of attention as came with being made captain for Brazil last week he just refuses to produce the goods.

    His choice of City over Chelsea backfired as he thought after leaving Madrid he'd finally be biggest fish in the pond. He won't be happy staying in Brazil either because he craves the limelight too much and needs constant ego constantly massaged.

    At 27 his next move might prove his most important. Do you think he still has time to mature and become a team player or will be witnessing another incredible Brazilian talent fade away as per Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Adriano? At least he seems favoured by Mano Menezes.

  • Comment number 5.

    Robinho's career seems to have been hampered by bad management so far. I was really surprised when Robinho decided to move to the EPL in what was obviously a very lucrative move for him and his agent but a very poor career move.

    Players like Robinho do not belong in the EPL. It is simply a waste of talent. And being a natural talent rather than a hard working one, he needs to be managed accordingly and so far his career has only followed the dollar/euro/pound signs.

    Of course, it also depends on what he wants to achieve with his talent and given the obscene amounts of money these players get, it is little wonder he doesn't seem to see any reason to put any effort in.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Like a spoilt son, he appears to want a guaranteed first team place because of who he is, but in Europe he is going to be judged on what he does. Merit is the criteria."

    Is this not also the case for the Brazillian national team? Was Ronaldinho not dropped for precisely this reason, not being an in-form player who expected to have a guaranteed place?

    I'm confused Tim because I thought (at least Dunga's) Brazillian team was based around the collective rather than the individuals.

    If this is the case, why is Robinho willing to work so hard for his country? As you say, he went to Santos to boost his World Cup chances and so if he is willing to work hard to earn a place in the national team, why can he not apply this ethic in training to earn his place in a club team?

  • Comment number 7.

    @4

    He won't be happy staying in Brazil either because he craves the limelight too much

    -----

    There's a key difference between Brazil and every other league in the world for Robinho: Brazil is his home.

    "another incredible Brazilian talent fade away as per Ronaldo"

    League stats alone:

    93-4 Cruzeiro: 14app 12gls Ronaldo aged 18
    94-96 PSV: 46a 42g
    96-97 Barca: 37a 34g
    97-02 Inter: 68a 49g
    02-07 Real: 127a 83g
    07-08 Milan: 20a 9g Ronaldo aged 30
    09- Corinthians: 21a 13g

    You can't compare the nature of Adriano and Ronaldinho's demise with that of Ronaldo who to his credit came back from serious injury three times.

  • Comment number 8.

    @4 "...will be witnessing another incredible Brazilian talent fade away as per Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Adriano?"

    Ronaldo???!!!... surely you mean the portuguese Ronaldo because the real one, the Brazilian one achieved everything there is to achieve in football. World Cup Champion, all-time World Cup leading goalscorer, leading goalscorer everywhere he played, he was one of the best, if not the best striker ever. Just look it up in wiki and see how good the guy was. He was the reason a strong but ordinary Brazil won the WC in 2002 and got to the final in 98.

    Don't confuse seeing the natural process of a player getting old (and overweight) with another one who should still be at the top of his game but wasted his chance away (like Ronaldinho).

  • Comment number 9.

    There are many talented players in the EPL from abroad, who are determined to work hard and make a success of themselves and adapt to the culture. The fact we don't have so many Brazilians (yet) unlike the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 in France and the Russian Premier League in particular is something to look into, but the physicality of our leagues is one factor.

    Other players with skill and whom are not known for their physical presence have still been successful but only because they knuckled down and made it work and won over the fans. Gianfranco Zola being one example of a smaller built, skilful player who learned to take the knocks and become a great team player as well as a great individual player. David Ginola. Cesc Fabregas.

    The first Brazilian I can remember in British football was Mirandinha at Newcastle, who has silky skills but couldn't stand the rain or cold weather and was the first player I can remember wearing gloves (before they became a fashion statement). He was quickly jogged on but Nobby Solano was a huge success. It's all about attitudes. A lot of players in South America grow up dirt poor and make their fortune through soccer and go for the 'playboy' lifestyle and are pandered to by agents and coaches coming through the ranks so much that they believe their own hype.

  • Comment number 10.

    While I agree with some of your appraisal about Robinho I tend to disagree that he has been a big failure in Europe. During the three years he spent in Real Madrid I think he did very well until Ramon Calderon proposed a move to swap him with Ronaldo. I remember an El Classico match where he was awarded the man of match award due to his mesmerizing performance.

    I believe you are one of those who labelled his first season at Machester City as a big failure too.. I think he was the third highest goal scorer in his first season behind Anelka and Tores scoring 14 or 15 goals with more assist than anyone in the Manchester City team. He scored more goals than Drogba, Arshavin and Wayne Rooney that season but the English Media still labelled him a failure.

    I am keen to know what you consider a success for a left forward in his first season in the EPL. Firstly I don't think he should have made the move to EPL because his style of play and skill is not appreciated in England. We are used to work horses and strikers tracking back like Wayne Rooney. I struggle to name two Brazillian players (Fabiano and Maicon) who had a better world cup than Robinho, he was a crucial memeber of Dunga's team both during qualifiers and the tournament.

    He might be sometimes petulant but to call his time in Europe a big failure is runing away from the FACT and completely unfair. Perhaps he needs a manager that would have confidence in him like Mark Hughes did, he was coming back from Injury and Mancini substituited him after coming in as a substituite against Everton and this was the club's highest goal scorer the previous season how does that help his confidence? I think he would make the move to Barcelona before 31st of August where he can express his ability to the max like he did during the world cup and against USA.

  • Comment number 11.

    #7 & #8 Yeah..fair dues re: Ronaldo. I take back including him in my list of examples ;)

    As for comments several have made re: EPL, I don't know if Robinho has actually complained about it's over-physical nature..could be wrong though? He did complain that it was hard to 'guarantee selection' in Europe's big leagues - he had the same problem at Madrid...but that implies his own form wasn't ever consistent.

    I wonder if the excuse of the EPL being too physical isn't just an excuse trotted out by players who aren't that succesful in England as #9 points out several slightly built skillful players cope okay and even prancing showboats like C.Ronaldo and A.Robben coped okay. If Robinho really can't handle that as Tim suggests maybe he isn't as good as we think he is?

  • Comment number 12.

    @11

    The problem is there isn't as much protection in the Prem as there is in other leagues and I would say that's as much of a problem to skillful foreign players as it is to the national side's aspirations. Credit to C.Ron who bulked up to cope with the physical side, but is it fair to expect every lightweight player to do the same? If a team fields such players and plays in a very skillful way we all know what kind of treatment they're going to come in line for in the Prem.

  • Comment number 13.

    "But he seems to have struggled with the same problem, an inability to adapt to different cultural values."

    Er - why should he have to adapt to different cultural values? Different strokes for different folks, and all that. Why should he *have* to play for some European club?

    Yes, there's an element of SKS (Spoiled Kid Syndrome) with Robinho, but if he's doing better playing at home, there's no need for him to play in Europe.

    Lots of non-European footballers miss home - the loneliness of playing in a strange country with a different language and none of the support network they grew up with. And most of those footballers lose form and end up benched or playing at some second-rate European football team that is in fact worse than the clubs at home - because they don't have the guts to return home as a 'failure'.

    Robinho didn't make their mistake - and kudos to him for going home.

    He's earning a good enough living, he's not hurting anybody, so why diss him?

    Besides, it's kinda hypocritical for a Brit - even one living outside Britain - to be saying things like this when so few British footballers play outside Britain.

  • Comment number 14.

    @12 "Credit to C.Ron who bulked up to cope with the physical side, but is it fair to expect every lightweight player to do the same?"

    er...yes, that would be fair. When you apply for a job, you agree to meet the performance requirements your employer sets. In the case of lightweight players, they know what they are getting into when they sign for a club in the EPL, so they should adapt accordingly. And don't forget they are doing this job for an obscene amount of money, so they should at least do their part of the bargain.

    That's why it's rare to find Robinho's type of talent in the EPL, because most prefer to join different leagues where they can be free to express their talent without as much risk to their health.

    As I previously pointed out though, I think Robinho's move to the EPL was a mistake driven by pure financial benefits and it simply shows where his agent's (and likely the player's) main priority lies and with this kind of attitude, he'll continue to be a player who promised a lot but never quite made it.

  • Comment number 15.

    Tim,

    Good article – Robinho has had enough chances to turn things around and never does, which makes me think that sadly he never will. Unstoppable on his day, but I think he’s too much of a liability now, and has made too much of a name for himself especially as far as La Liga, and The Premiership is concerned.

    Can you imagine Fergie or Ancelotti taking a punt on him now!? Laughable. Not a chance.

    I remember the delirium surrounding his signing for City, and ‘snubbing’ of Chelsea, much to the delight of that crowd at Eastlands and I casted my thoughts back to when Robinho was caught turning up at Madrid stinking of booze, and failing to turn up for training. Fate can work beautifully at times.

    Maybe The Bundesliga will take a chance on his potential if South America can’t afford him? Or the Turkish league perhaps? Regardless, it seems pretty certain that he doesn’t want a return to Manchester. He’s made that very clear.

    Once again, and along similar lines, are Chelsea on the verge of signing Robinho MKII? I’ve read that Neymar has also got a lot of growing up to do, and is not ready for a big move as of yet? I would be very interested to hear your thoughts.

  • Comment number 16.

    Great article, as always. About the only thing missing is your opinion on what Manchester City should do with him right now, in this transfer window. I would be interested to read that.

    I think they're well within their rights to hold onto him until they receive a decent bid. As you have written, he has proven his talent for Brazil and Santos, in the same way he did before moving to Europe the first time, so a figure similar to the €24m Real Madrid paid for him would be fair.

    But are there any clubs in Europe willing to take a definite gamble on Robinho for that sort of money? The only candidates that spring to mind are Real Madrid and Manchester City! So perhaps City will be forced to hold on to him for now. If they do that, I think Mancini should pick Robinho in his 25-man squad to show him he still has a chance - then it will be up to the player himself to earn playing time. He's certainly got the ability to do so.

    One other thing. I heard on the radio last night that FIFA have now said that they will cancel players' contracts if they have not played in a certain percentage of games for their clubs. Is that true? I cannot find any information about it on the BBC Sport website or any other. If so, what is the percentage? It could be a hugely complicating factor in Manchester City's decision.

  • Comment number 17.

    In Matthew Syed's book Bounce, Syed says that being told how 'naturally brilliant' you are after success makes you forget you need to work hard, whilst being praised after success for 'a huge effort' reminds you that success comes from working hard as well.

    I think Robinho has been told how 'naturally talented' too often and became arrogant about his own abilities and stopped working hard.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi Tim, very well timed article, I as a Brazilian also believe, at this moment a new cycle begins towards 2014, we need to honestly assess the players that may play a major part in the next 4 years. And Robinho possibly represents the biggest conundrum - so much talent and done well for Brazil in the past, but so unreliable and at times unprofessional -might very well be ostracized by the big clubs which would keep him away from the competitive leagues. I sincerely hope Robinho will realize it himself because if he can perform at his best week in, week out, he could play in any club in any league, including the EPL.

    just before I finalise: @4, others have already mentioned it but I also need to say I was shocked to see you compare Robinho's 'fading' career with Ronaldo's - c'mon be serious, Ronaldo took part in 4 WCs, bit part winner in 94 but best player and top goal scorer in 2002. This is a career (very) few players can equal, it hardly 'faded' for no other reason than aging.

  • Comment number 19.

    I've been watching Robinho's matches since 2002.I believe there is no one who doubts his talent and ability.If Robinho has a strong body just as CR,he should be the best player of this world.Unfortunately,Robinho has lost himself in man city though he got the happiness from santos again.

    It was said that man city would take Robinho to Inter for Balotelli's transfer.But now Balotelli has became one member of many city,where's Robinho? I really hope there will be a nice coach bring him go back to a right direction. Come on Robinho!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Good article Tim, but don't you think the answer for this issue is really simple...Robinho should stay in Brazil.

    He is happy there and an important player from Santos and Brazil, I know is not that simple and there is a lot of money involved but this seems to be the best solution for everyone.

    I just would like to remember that Forlan the best player of the last WC and probably the best striker of Europe in the recent years also failed at the EPL. That's not a reason to be ashamed, each league has its own style and some players fit better in different schools of football.

    Cheers.

  • Comment number 21.

    Interesting read as always Tim but for god's sake change that photo. You look like you're plotting some act of unspeakable evil from the comfort of a chez long.

  • Comment number 22.

    Basically, should've gone to Chelsea and got straightened out. Played in a team where his talents weren't wasted.

    He just needs some structure and a direction so he can do what he does and think football, not "why is my team not playing the way it should" like Man City.

    While too early too judge them, they are pretty clueless which is probably down to the inexperienced manager and only seem to play well when it flows in their direction(based off last season)

    Mancini will go this year, and the board need to sit down and hire someone who can at least control this raw team, as well as have a forward direction.

    Player will get frustrated because they don't know what they are doing and will pull in different directions.

    You could say Chelsea were very fortunate to have Mourinho come in at the time he did. Take control and focus the effort since it all could've gone off the rails a la Mutu.

  • Comment number 23.

    He's a great talent but he's done nothing with it. Poor return in Europe 51 goals in 187 games, simlar to Bellamy's strike rate. Benjani scored 15 goals in his first season with City, where's he now? Gerrard outscored him when he scored 14 league goals(his best return outside Brazil). You can prove anything with statistics, 56% of people know that. Truth is, he's spasmodic and a liability at times(subbing a sub!!!). When you think what you get for 32 million quid(Torres, Villa) and Mezil at 1/3rd the price He has to go down as a massive failure.

    PS. Would love to see Pastore or Alexis Sanchez at Liverpool Argentinians are more adaptable and Sanchez is used to Europe now.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think Robinho has been a victim of circumstance had he stayed and fought for his place in the City team, I'm sure City would be in the champions league by now. He was hyped up as the 1st of many City big signings however a craftsman is only as good with the tools he has to use. City have better players now and "if" City decide to play him with those players then the returns would be very beneficial to the club and the fans and he would finally believe in himself to be loved, which is what he craves!

  • Comment number 25.

    #18 AlexAD - I took back what I said re: Ronnie in my post #11 ;) after it was pointed out his achievements in his career should excuse him from criticism. I was being a bit harsh on his post-30 decline (which probably wasn't as bad as first summised anyway)

    #12 Fenomeno - I think certain players do come in for a bit off rough treatment in the Premier League by certain teams and players, but usually because they get tagged as being fragile and find it hard to shake the label, but as Samir Nasri stated recently, he was targeted on arrival by J.Barton but after he gave back what he got..he hasn't really had any problem since.

    #14 BladeRunner - You are right saying we can't expect every lightweight player to bulk up like Ronaldo when coming to the England, but we should remember that his hard work in doing so partly what made him World Player of the Year a couple of season's back.

    You can be Pele in your local park, but unless you are prepared to step up and mix it with more difficult opponents outside your comfort zone can you seriously still be compared to the greats? Maradona and Messi were used to getting kicked every game but it didn't stop them. Neymar would need the same attitude.

  • Comment number 26.

    Apologies..Bladerunner, my point should have been made to comments you were quoting ;(...soz!

  • Comment number 27.

    @14 "so they should adapt accordingly"

    -----

    My wording was sloppy. The argument I meant to put across was should we as a league expect skillful players to bulk up or go home? or should we say "come play in our league, we will protect you"?

    I'd much prefer the latter and I do believe that the former has a profound effect on the quality of the national side, seeing as it's very much the philosophy of clubs when looking at the clubs at the bottom end of the Prem onwards.

  • Comment number 28.

    #9, you make a valid point but Ginola, whom I think we got the best of up here at Newcastle, was hardly small - quite the opposite in fact. Strong as anything and with a surprising turn of pace after dusting his man, superb player so he was. Agree with most posters that Ronaldo was outstanding, best striker of my lifetime so far without question, though how he hit the post in the airport is beyond me?

    Robinho is outrageously talented, but seems to flit in and out of games. His last season in Madrid he was fantastic, but he still went missing in games. He doesn't appear to have the tactical nous or footballing intelligence of some of his peers, or at least won't put in the effort to find space and create it for others. However, in terms of natural ability their are few better, if any. I hope he gets to where he should be, on his day one of the finest footballers on the planet.

  • Comment number 29.

    28# he did play well towards the end of his spell at madrid; Capello really seemed to sort him out. However, his performances in away matches, even during this spell, was suspect..he went AWOL away from the Bernabeu too often.

  • Comment number 30.

    #27 Fenomeno - again you make a very fair point about the level of protection players should or should not receive, but part of the EPL's global appeal is the commitment players show in the tackle and as for any negative effect it might have on the National team...it doesn't seem to have hampered any of the majority foreign stars playing in the league when they represent their countries?

    Sadly, it's probably the only way tactically that smaller teams can cope against the big guns and if sides are technically good passing it around hatchet men don't get close enough to do any damage as per my point about Messi ;)

  • Comment number 31.

    Laughing my back wheels off at the guy who said Luis Ronaldo "faded away". He's twice world player of the year, won World cups, the ALL TIME World cup goalscorer and scored buckets of goals for clubs like PSV, Barcelona, Inter and Real Madrid. In terms of club level anyway, his career C.V. makes many legends look silly, including Pele and Diego. He's a proven legend ON BOTH club and International, he is well and truly cemented as one of the best strikers of all time. In his prime he was unstoppable.

  • Comment number 32.

    Tim,

    Can you comment on the dreadful scheduling and coverage of South American football in Brazil. The premierevent the final of the libertadores was again not shown on Television in Sao Paulo, again with one of the cities teams playing at the same time.
    Clearly this stinks of hypocracy, with Palmerais playing in the first leg of their Sul Americana qualifier with Vitoria. Real football fans being denied the opportunities.
    Maybe they will argue of the delayed final stages from the tournament due to the World Cup, but they managed to seperate the Brazilian Cup final and Libertadores Semi two weeks ago.
    To me Brazilian football stills thinks with this State (championship/ federation) mentaility and it this which weakens the game here in my opinion and is the route to that much bigger issue - This dreadfully planned World Cup 2014!
    Mind you I think FIFA is equally to blame for this situation. The first country invited not to prepare a planned, developed bid for a World Cup in the modern era and its Brazil, with its poor infrastructure for planning and meeting deadlines.

  • Comment number 33.

    #31, Sirmattsway - he was also the top scorer in World Cup history until recently, his national team record is exemplary. Only big game he ever went missing in was a World Cup Final unfortunately. At that time, he was unquestionably the best footballer on the planet as well.

  • Comment number 34.

    @ 31 Sirmattsway and 33 Stevat Ronaldo was three times the world player of the year and not two 1996, 1997 and 2002 and he is still the all time world cup highest goal scorer.

  • Comment number 35.

    fenomeno...following on from previous tim vickery posts.....

    spain > brazil

    world cup champs 2010 = spain

    new patrons of jogo bonito = spain

  • Comment number 36.

    A few people have mentions the physicality of the Premiership hence Brazilian players find it a struggle. I have watched a little of the Bundesliga and that league is certainly not for the faint hearted whilst the Russian league is also physical game.

    I think a major issue why he has failed to adopt to the english game is his attitude on the pitch. The english fans, more than any other, rewards effort with affection whilst a skillful player who shows little commitment will always struggle to win over the fans. Without the fans complete backing, it is always difficult to be at your best.

  • Comment number 37.

    Players like Robinho are what is wrong with football. Entitled, immature and spineless. Football is the only sport I can think of where a guy with his (lack of) character is indulged with huge wages, in most other sports he would be unemployed.

  • Comment number 38.

    #31 & 33 - Crikey how many times does a person have to retract a comment?? ;)

    Anyway here's a few journalistic quotes to laugh at:

    "If Ronaldo continues to FADE then it’s not the end of the world. He’s wowed us all since he was 17 and it may just be that his body has seen enough" Times 2005

    "Nike pins hopes on Ronaldo's 'FADING star'" guardian 2006

    "the glitter in Ronaldo Luis Nazarro de Lima’s career has since FADED to a dull lustre" Nigeria's Punch Online....yeah okay stretching the point ;)

  • Comment number 39.

    Unfortunately Robinho needs to leave Man City. The Premier League does not appreciate Artisans, and will always place Athleticism and strength over Creativity and skill.

    Also I think Ronaldinho is also been a bit harshly treated. Some players peak earlier than others. For a three - four year period Ronaldinho was simply Brilliant. Then injuries, age and most importantly his personal and social life caught up with him.

  • Comment number 40.

    Congratulations yet again Tim on an interesting blog that has provoked interesting comment. Let me weigh in with my bit.
    For Robinho, the Brazil link seems to be extremely important (hence his giving his all for the 'seleção'). He engineered his move to RM to follow Luxemburgo, when he was still rated a top-of-the-line coach, who he'd worked under at Santos. But Luxa was dumped soon afterwards (was he just used as a lure?). Then he wanted to go to England, but I think it was RM who chose MC, because of the way Chelsea went about trying to grab him - and are now doing for Neymar - and Robinho accepted because his Santos mate Elano (another hugely under-rated player). However, MC changed manager, marginalized and then sold Elano, and Robinho was 'alone' again. This definitely fits the pattern of his fluctuating form.
    Imo, Neymar is not ready for Europe, either emotionally or in footballing terms, and should be given at least another season to develop at Santos, where he will get Libertadores football next year. However, his father and agent 'appear' all too keen to cash in now on the opportunity.
    I totally agree with No.12 that skillful players do not get as much protection in the EPL as elsewhere. It is all too easy for a clogger to chop them down, since (unless it's a penalty) the ensuing free-kick allows the entire defending team to come back behind the ball, and refs are unduly reluctant to dish out yellow cards (football is a physical game, spoils the flow, etc.). This (on top of the weather) increasingly affects the ability of our game to bring in top talent and develop skillful home grown players. To their credit, those that do so are 'in spite of' these drawbacks.
    It is unfair to compare the climate adaptability of tropical Brazilians with Argentineans (or Chileans), whose climate is pretty European.

  • Comment number 41.

    #10 mohtechnix

    "I think he was the third highest goal scorer in his first season behind Anelka and Tores scoring 14 or 15 goals with more assist than anyone in the Manchester City team. He scored more goals than Drogba, Arshavin and Wayne Rooney that season but the English Media still labelled him a failure."

    In the 2008/09 season, Robinho finished 4th in the scoring table with 14 goals, behind Anelka with 19, C.Ronaldo with 18, and Gerrard with 16.

    Torres scored the same number of goals as Robinho, finishing 5th.

    The interesting thing here is that Robinho played 31 Prem games for Man City that season, Torres scored the same number of goals in 24 games, Arshavin only scored 6 but this was in 12 games so he had a better goal return ratio than Robinho, he couldn't help it if Arsene Wenger was breaking him in gently.....

    You also need to look at the role these players have at their clubs, Robinho was the centre of attention, the first name on the team sheet under Mark Hughes that season, Rooney only scored 12 times but was playing second fiddle to C.Ronaldo who was playing the centre forward role with Rooney pushed out on the left.

    Drogba played 24 times for Chelsea that season yet only managed 5 goals, I'm not sure what happened there.

    All I'm trying to point out is that a player's goal return for the season must be looked at objectively, how many games did they play, were they played out of position, etc...

    With the attention Robinho got at Man City in his first season, he did have a good season for goal scoring, so I agree that to label him a failure is slightly unfair, but also to say that he outperformed Rooney, Drogba & Arshavin may be slightly biased towards the Brazilian when you examine the bigger picture....

    Good blog though Tim

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the thing with Ronaldo is that as great as he was, he could have been even greater if he was not so unlucky witrh injuries. The weight issues only came along after the injuries started.

    Anyway when talking about Great South American strikers of the last 20 years please remember Gabriel Batistuta. What a fantastic player he was. To think Michael Owen won European Footballer of the year and the FAR superior (by any criteria you choose) Batistuta did not, is perhaps the biggest criticism that it is possible to level at the validity of individual awards in Football.

  • Comment number 43.

    Robinho is a good player, but that's about it.

    Expecting him to ever become the best playing in the world is failing to realize Robinho is not a rounded footballer; he is skillful, and has exquisite technique, but he lacks physically and mentally. Yes, it matters... Saying that "if robinho were stronger" is as silly as saying if Ronaldo were weaker" or "if Maradona were slower." The complete package makes a footballer.

  • Comment number 44.

    Forgot to add that, again imho, Ronaldo was the closest to stealing Pele's crown, on a like-for-like basis. However, his appalling injuries put paid to that and it is to his huge credit that he came back, time and again, to achieve the outstanding career that others have highlighted here. The price was pain treatments that I am sure have contributed to his weight gains and made it so difficult to get into shape. The head still has it, but the body no longer collaborates. It's a heavy price to pay!

  • Comment number 45.

    Good blog Tim. For the 20 years plus that I have followed football closely, there have been several players who have promised and delivered consistently at all levels. One needs look no further than Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. Then there are those who have been more or less overrated for half their careers - those who keep an eduring promise of ability and talent, ability that is just around the corner, right there. Players who look like they will explode and release all that talent in the next week, the next match, the next championship... These are Ibrahimovic, Wyne Rooney, Robinho, Nani etc. These players, you know, can do something out of the ordinary. Their mystic is to create and sustain an enduring promise. They make us wait, and wait. And who knows, it might just happen for them one day.
    In the mean time, we just have to look at those who have it all and are doing their thing: Ronaldo, Messi, or the rest that don't quite have it all but are trying..

  • Comment number 46.

    @15

    Snubbing of Chelsea? was that sarcasm?

    From what i remember Robinho spent the best part of a month leading up to the end of the transfer window whining and bitching to everyone who would hear him (including having his own press conference)that he wanted to leave Real Madrid for Chelsea. By the end of it all Real Madrid seemed prepared to sell him just to get him off their hands but Chelsea refused to pay the £33 asking price. The only club who would were Manchester City who suddenly had cash to burn and wanted a high profile signing.

    Robinho's comments in the following few days of "being proud to play for the biggest club in Manchester" in my opinion suggested he thought he was going elsewhere. I reckon his agent rang him and said words to the effect of "Do you fancy playing at Manchester City" and Robinho thought he litteraly meant "the city" and imagined a different club.

  • Comment number 47.

    Good article, I think Robinho is the type of player to show off his skills and thats it, not a beliver in playing as a team or tracking back, his best place would be to stay in Brazil where he can show off his subliminal skills as they allow their most talented brazilians to show off their skills, in other words they have more freedom, than in european football. If he wants to stay in english/european football then he needs to grow up and start to be more of a team player and not sulk if things dont go his way.

  • Comment number 48.

    #39 JamTay1 ????...EPL Football Writer's Players of The Year Award:

    95-96 Eric Cantona
    96-97 Gianfranco Zola
    97-98 Dennis Bergkamp
    98-99 David Ginola
    99-00 Roy Keane (FAIR ENOUGH!)
    00-01 Teddy Sheringham
    01-02 Robert Pirès
    02-04 Thierry Henry

    ...do you notice a trend of appreciation of creativity and skill developing here??

    Good one about Ronaldinho's personal and social life catching up with him though..poor fella! :)

  • Comment number 49.

    Robinho has a lot of talent but needs to know that who can't act like a pampered child forever besides he's now 26. I've replayed the Neymar goal against USA a dozen times. Robinho's hand in it was superb. His lay-on for Andre Santos' cross and Neymar's connecting header was a sight to behold. Speaking on Neymar, Tim do you think if Neymar moves to Chelsea he will be going down the same road Robinho did a few years back?

  • Comment number 50.

    @48 JoC

    Fair point! Great list you have compiled there, however (with tongue firmly in cheek) I offer another list.

    Sam Allardyce
    Joey Barton
    Kevin Davies
    Emile Heskey
    John Terry

    Perhaps I was been a little unfair. Please note that with the exception of Teddy Sheringham not one player on your list is English. Basically the Premier League broadly speaking is about a majority of British lumps trying to imtimidate and rough up the minority of stylish Continentals.

  • Comment number 51.

    The Premiership is so fierce, so fast that it requires every player to work hard. Robinho has never been this player and he never will, its not only a personality attribute issue its a cultural one too. How amny Brazilian strikers work hard? I dont remember Ronaldo, Fabiano, Romario, Adriano and Ronaldinho tracking back too many times. This is teh way they are brought up in Brazil, this is their style, skill swaggera nd any manager expecting Robinho to change should have question marks over his judgement.
    It was a marriage doomed to fail, a league that is over reliant on pace, work ethic and strength than ability and a player more intrested in technical play than hard work. We all attribute the blame to Robinho but fail to recognise the faults with our league. The top strikers recently Rooney, Drogba and Torres, great players with pace, strength and a good work ethic this is no con-incidenec of course Robinho wont be consistent nobody's skill levels stay consistent but when these players are off form they can rely on physical ability. The porblem is our players are never delevoped the Brizilian way, we all run and huff and puff and have plenty of gusto but little talent. Our youngsters are never afforded time to develop they all must conform to a work ethic teh result and England side in the summer that contained players who could not beat a man. Rooney aside apart from teh odd Gerrad run nobody could beat a man and this is why we passed sideways. We bullied our way to qualification but quick tempo football, high pressure quick football. The problem is in tournament football the other more technical side acn match that application. The result Brazil and Spain were the favourites beacuse they had the most technical players and we were not even feared. yet we will criticise Robinho for not tracking back or working hard and other countries with luxury players will do better and the cycle will continue. We will continue to tell everybody the Premiership is the best and look abroad for foriegn talent and ask tehm to adapt. Soem will and be successful mostly the athletic strong players and the less gifted physically will fall by teh way side and have tehir character questioned and we will continue to produce players with very little variety to their game because unfortuantely we cant send them abroad to learn their trade

  • Comment number 52.

    #50 JamTay1

    Touché - do like the cloggers/spoilers list too - although JT's inclusion's a tad harsh (only remember him going in hard on Wayne Bridge or should I say his...(no better not...moderators) ;)?

    Doubt the likes of Le Tissier, Anderton, Barnes, Beardsley, Walcott, Lennon et al would agree with you 'lumping' them in with the scoundrels. Interesting to note Patrick Viera's got the most red cards in EPL too!

    Lampard and Gerrard have won player of the year award since ofcourse, I was merely pointing out our discerning appreciation of foreign artisanship by listing the first few ;)

  • Comment number 53.

    Managers like Allardyce, Fat Sam & Big Sam just instruct their teams to kick anyone with any skill off the park.. thus a potentialy great player like Robinho wont be picked by managers.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 50. At 5:14pm on 16 Aug 2010, JamTay1

    I am sure you can come up with a list of physical but commited players from any country you wish!

    Marco Materazzi... Carsten Jancker... or even Andoni Goikoetxea etc

    If all plays were skills players then you would lose something from the game... watch foosball if you want to watch sure skills..

  • Comment number 55.

    re 53. At 5:44pm on 16 Aug 2010, Milf_2_sugars wrote:

    Managers like Allardyce, Fat Sam & Big Sam


    Haha.. love it... I have never seen these 3 managers in the same picture!

    To be fair, he does always like a flair player or 2 in each of his sides..

  • Comment number 56.

    This Tim Vickery fella has no idea what he's talking about.

    Robinho was and has always played a pivotal part for Brazil. Why don't you interview Brazilians or find what they say on the matter rather than basing you entire argument on his awful Premier League stint.

    No wonder the best players in the World eventually leave to play elsewhere, with reporters as good as our weather!

  • Comment number 57.

    Tim, as much as robinho needs this sort of criticism, i think we could say a thing or two to defend his football, not his persona.

    He managed to succeed in the worst envirment in europe this decade, real madrids dressing room. with some ppl claiming that raul would be dividing the players and givin information to journalits to be protected by the media, robinho lead real madrid to 2 championships during the times of xavi, iniesta, messi, ronaldinho, deco, henry, etoo in barcelona. Not rarely, i would see him setting the play for a winning goal only to see the press putting raul in the front page as man of the match. Following comments from 'madridistas' we could really see who they knew was responsible for the victories, Robinho.

    When he felt unease for being used as money to bring cristiano ronaldo to madrid, madrid fans heavily criticized how robinho was being treated and how much he worthed. MArca and AS, were working for calderon on the case throwing the public opinion against him but the fans, those who actually watched the games new better.

    your analiss of his impact against usa only reminds me his game in confed cup 2005, along with ronaldinho, kaka , adriano, they played for me an even better football, cause it was argentina and a final. So, in 2006, despite having this failed Wc in his profile, he was denied a place in the starting eleven when every one in brasil was urging parreira to do so, just like with ganso and neymar in this WC. Against france, parreira made a arrogant move to prove his point agisnt public opinion, and didnt put robinho in the beggining of second half, but adriano, he managed to play in the last minutes. Still recall this as the most outrageous move by a brazilian coach in a wc.

    he was part of 2 brazilian teams that won evetrything but the WC, and he has no guilt whatsoever in those failures.

    what do plays agsint him is his personality. There are so many moments where you expected robinho to be more mature or do a better decision. that infamous picture took by journalists where he undresses diegos from his clothes during an interview; how he overreacted when madrid wanted to bring CR; the way he happily commemorates frances advancing in 2006 hugging zidane; how he treats manchester city; asking appologies to a journalist that dunga fought in south africa. All this wont prove nothin agiasnt his ability to play at all levels in football technicaly wise, but shows that something lacks so he can be the leader of a club and definetily marks his name in the hearts of game lovers.

  • Comment number 58.

    Tim, it is so obvious that you may not have played football or if you did, you did not have any skills. It takes a specific mindset to play like Robinho, also his back ground determines a lot, of how he plays. Do you remember Rivaldo? There aren't many players that possessed that much skill. Messi or say Iniesta, have a different type of skill and has to execute, only in that fashion. Of course it is more European in expression, so more acceptable. Messi is more special of course. he combines Rivaldo's skill with Iniesta's and is more Maradona like, just not as good.
    However Robinho and Rivaldo type skill is more suited to running at defenders from a short distance, in preferably the box area and will more likely result in a goal.
    It takes massive concentration and selfishness and the end result always is spectacular. It is a special skill set and is more frequently seen in the small goal arena.
    They need special treatment and managers like Mourinho, who understand them,to get the best out of them.
    Stop being judgmental about something you don't understand!

  • Comment number 59.

    Robinho plays well in friendlies and against weak teams. the problem is that people still make him believe that he will be like the other top R's: Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo, and that he will never be. he'll indeed be great at club level, but not as someone like Kaka or Cristiano Ronaldo, or Messi. but as long as he's treated like a superstar, he will believe he should be treated as one.

  • Comment number 60.

    Darren Jeffers is absolutely right, however I think the English league is the best and with the right manager, our players will demolish anyone.
    I play skillfully myself and love that sort of game but I recognize Rooney, DeFoe, Wright Phillips, Walcott and co if allowed to play to their strengths, without consequences, will own everyone.
    Their speed and control is supreme. They have little skill but their directness with the little skill they have, makes them supreme.
    Does anyone realize just how good Rooney is. Does anyone know of any striker who is more aggressive, built like a tank, speedy and direct like Rooney. He's like a Ronaldo (Brazilian) and Romario combined.
    And I don't like the guy but can he play football.

  • Comment number 61.

    #58 Vickery was a very skillful player, especially for a target man - in fact playing Robinho off Vickery could be the answer to the problems of the young peixe.

    If Robinho had signed for Chelsea we may have seen a very different player. Essien behind him, and Drogba in front, a scary thought.

    An awesome footballer, should forget the money and sign for Santos permanently where he can become a club icon.

  • Comment number 62.

    I think Joe Cole had the same kind of problem at Chelsea, happily he played his way into the team, rather than moaned his way out

  • Comment number 63.

    60 Of course South Americans realise how wunderful Rooney is.We have seen him in two Mundials now and realise he would be ok in Brasils Serie B or maybe even the Nacional B in Argentina.
    How could anybody rate this guy hes completely useless hes slow, cant dribble and his shooting well what can you say.At the highest stage the guys a complete flop.It merely confirms what we saw in Brasil in the world club c/ship this Manchester team is superhyped but completely useless.
    As fior Robinho when he was in South America he did well for Santos in Brasil but in the Libertadores he couldnt hack it.

  • Comment number 64.

    13 accuses me of hypocrisy because so few english players move abroad. for the 1000th time i'm not a spokesman for the country where i was born - point categorically dismissed.

    why should he play in europe? throw as many tantrums as you like, sing as many national anthems as you want, but that's the way it is. might not be the way that you or i would have chosen it, but we have to deal with the world as it is. in today's globalised football it is no longer possible to be considered a true great without making a mark in europe's champions league. the players know this better than anyone.

    everything has a price to pay - if robinho has the ambition of winning the world player of the year award, as he has frequently commented, he has to crack europe.

  • Comment number 65.

    56 needs to improve his reading comprehension. i did not base my entire argument on robinho's performances in england - there is plenty in there about his display for brazil against the usa.

    after the world cup there were plenty of brazilians calling for him never to be picked again for the national team - they've grown tired of seeing him shine in the easy games, and disappear when the going gets tough. hence the observation in the article - you can't just pin his problems on europe. he has a bigger problem dealing with adversity.

  • Comment number 66.

    working back - this has been presented as an ugly premier league versus beautiful brazilian football conflict, when it is nothing of the kind.

    when robinho was first making his name with santos, one of his characteristics which was most praised was his capacity to track back and win the ball - he would sneak in a foot and nick the ball away from an opponent, thus putting an attacking move in motion. he was a defender's nightmare - they couldn't dwell on the ball while he was around - a bit like ian rush at liverpool.

    this was a big part of his game with santos 6 years ago - does he show the same desire to do it at man city?

  • Comment number 67.

    58 - seldom have i seen a determined big brain come up with something so stupid

  • Comment number 68.

    32 - off the subject, but some intelligent and pertinent comments on the organisation of brazilian football - and fifa too

  • Comment number 69.

    57 - itagalo, i think we agree on many things, but there's one point where we clearly don't - brazil's performance in the 2005 confeds cup.

    i think this did more harm than good to the world cup campaign the following year, because, based solely in the final, it created the illusion of a super team.

    argentina in the final were well below strength - it was a mixed team - and out on their feet after going to extra time v mexico. but, as was the style of that argentina side, they still tried to pass their way through brazil - and were picked off on the counter. it was a million miles away from the challenge that brazil would face a year later.

    one of the best things that new coach mano menezes said in his presentation was that brazil need to learn how to play against sides who keep men back and don't offer the counter-attack. the success of the 2014 world cup campaign hangs on this question.

  • Comment number 70.

    That's it tim lad, sock it to 'em. #56 is particularly amusing, especially as the reporter in question is, as the blurb idicates, based in Rio - yeah, why don't you talk to some Brazilians Tim? hahaha

    You've got to do your homework anti_stan, it's not sky sports news sonny, this blog is the pinnacle of socio-cultural football philosophy, south american speculation in football forum format for the thinking man.

    Grab a bottle of Malbec, a copy of champ man 97-98 and keep footballtransfers.co.uk on tab, we're going in for the kill Redondo style!

  • Comment number 71.

    Interesting post as always Tim - I still remember watching Brazil vs Chile in the 2007 Copa America (the first round match) when Robinho scored an incredible hat trick - he was simply unplayable that game and it is to this day one of the best individual performances I've ever seen. It is a shame things went sour at Madrid because he was also one of their better players in the 2008 title winning season. I still think he has time though, this is only his 5th season in Europe - after all Ronaldo didn't win his first European league title until he was 26!

    #32 - I feel your pain, the Paraguay friendly against Costa Rica wasn't screened live here in Asuncion last week either. I suppose the telenovlas were too important to reschedule!!

    http://footballtoptens.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 72.

    Indeed, tim, brazil was a bit shaky in its run to the final. But all goals were scored with argentina defense outnumbering brazillian attack. maybe the first was almost a counter. But the others were result of brazilian skill not timing with their defense.

    and the fact is that roster of players did not make to the Wc finals, i know this win created that illusion, but that only made parreira comfortable enough to line up the poster boys (ronaldo 10kg above his ideal weight and smoking, being called 'the president' by the players) playing for record beaters.

    As little we could get from that game is still more we can take from this friendly, wouldnt you agree?

  • Comment number 73.

    Just about comments regarding Neymar...

    I have been living in Brazil for some time and have become a Santos supporter over here.

    I would be sad to see Neymar go (Santos has a habit of having brilliant young teams and selling them all... same has happened this year), though am worried because he is still pretty immature, goes down very easily, and am not sure whether he is ready for Europe yet (and if he did go, would prefer to see him at Utd... but that's not going to happen!) I would be worried that he would be very much like Robinho and need a lot of pampering, and I doubt that he would get much first team football for Chelsea for some time.

    (On the other hand, a Santos player who really should be watched is Paulo Henrique "Ganso"... Young but much more mature and influential player. You saw it here first! :) )

    But ah well, if he does go... all the best to him.

  • Comment number 74.

    73-

    its ok for the Spanish to plunder south america though

  • Comment number 75.

    Just quickly Tim, do you think all the hyperbole being thrown in Neymar's direction will influence him into making hurried and potentially career damaging decisions and when do you feel, if ever, the move to Europe will be the right one for him? I was in Brazil a few months back and the media were covering the issue and an update on it would be most appreciated. Thank you.

  • Comment number 76.

    Great analysis Tim.

    Glad do know that Robinho had a good performance in the friendly against the US. To me, he is the best Brazilian player and I really enjoy watching him with the yellow shirt.

    It's quite easy to understand why he cannot pull great performances at club level: no real motivation, no real love from the club, we all could see that coming when he signed for City.

    Hope he gets himself out of this limbo, he still has a lot to offer.

  • Comment number 77.

    @60determine bb, The point is ,good as I agree Rooney is, playing that type/style of football that England does under several managers, Rooney will never get a an opportunity to use those attributes as was shown in this last worldcup. The plays are anulled before any of the frontmen you mentioned get a chance to apply themselves.

  • Comment number 78.

    I forgot to say that i do admit i didnt take into account argentina's form at that time (better team than usa? probably. better defense than usa? dont think so, wich is your point. that maybe made me overhype brazils performace (me and 90% of the press world wide, wich is not a irony toward your opinion, but towards press bandwagon). But the little glimpse of it we had agaisnt japan, shed a total different light on brazils possibilities in that Wc, wich parreira tottaly and 'misteriously' (as aknowledgeable coach he is) ignored.

    abraço

  • Comment number 79.

    robbie was good at real he wasnt poor and in the end wanted to move to play more regular football.when others say this it is accepted that they are trying to improve their career when robbie does it you say he "cried" his way out. the problem isnt robbie at all he scored plenty of goals and made plenty of assists for city, a team he never wanted to join in the first place im sure we all remember his first english interview where he thought he had signed for chelsa and had to be corrected to city and looked distraught, the problem is the way the nedia attack him and unsettle him...

  • Comment number 80.

    This is so sad because he is my favorite player. I have seen his skills lsowly decreasing for some time now so I knew this day would come :( I hope he is okay.

    Beat MakingInstrumental

  • Comment number 81.

    Great article Tim. He is definitely a great talent - we just saw glimpses of it in the World Cup. Is it more a problem of Agents than his [obvious] skills but impetuosity? It brings up the question who looks after players these days [in terms of mentoring] Agents, Managers?

  • Comment number 82.

    There is an assumption running through this piece that if you're not lifting trophies in Europe, or especially in England, that you're a failure as an athlete and a man.

    You could write an identical story about Landon Donovan, who except for a brief spell in Everton has played all his important ball in the States. So what?

    It's a kind of New York attitude. I was born in that area, which is why I recognize it. Players who perform in different cities are considered inferior because they didn't make it in the Big Apple.

    It's a bogus attitude. Robinho is a great player. Donovan is a great player. Not all great players do well in England. Doesn't make them inferior.

  • Comment number 83.

    "In the deep squads of a big European club there is no such thing as a guaranteed first team place, he has to earn it."
    Not if the squad manager is Martin O'Neill!

  • Comment number 84.

    82 -why 'especially england' - that line of thinking does not appear once in the piece and is not hinted at - you have your own agenda there.

    i refer you to the answer on 64. to be considered truly great in the global game these days you need to shine in the champions league - more than the world cup, that is today's test. perhaps in the future talent will be distributed more widely and this will not be the case - it certainly wasn't the case before the global market opened up. but it is now. ask the players. they know it.

    new york has nothing to do with it. we're talking about the global game, and the collection of the best players from all over the planet in a small number of top european clubs. might not be right, might not be fair - but, for the moment, it's the way it is.

  • Comment number 85.

    @35

    after seeing the joga bonito of brasil at wc 06 and spain this year, i'm now hoping to see "the ugly game" when watching football in the future

  • Comment number 86.

    My word, there's some nonsense getting posted. Nowhere in the article is "having to do it in England" mentioned. I recall on several occasions the rather excellent writer of this article praising a certain Seber Veron - who, according to most of the English media, did not "do it" in England. I find that a rather flawed view since the man did not get anywhere near enough games in either a Manchester United or Chelsea shirt, and when he did he was actually pretty superb... But I digress.

    The point is, Veron didn't "do it" in England (according to the masses), but he did do it in Italy, where the style and pace was (and is) rather different.

    Robinho, on the other hand, couldn't do it in Spain where, at the time, I would go out on a limb and say that the defences were rather far inferior to those in England or Germany or Italy (in terms of controlling space and defensive discipline, certainly). Now he also fails to do it in England, where his quick change of pace ought to be exceptionally useful against English-style defences.

    Defensive players in Brazil tend, if I am not mistaken, to be rather older than they are in England because the younger ones get snapped up by European teams ASAP. No wonder he could do it at Santos; he's got years of legs on most of the opposition and doesn't have to work anywhere near as hard to find space.

    The Champions League is the competition worldwide, because of the compromise of style required to win it. You can't play Spanish football, or English football, or Italian football to win it; that doesn't work. Teams need to develop a wholly different style of play to win in the Champions League - see Manchester United taking years to settle, losing to opposition (such as Fenerbache) which we wouldn't expect them to lose to now... with a team, arguably, better than the current one. See also Arsenal; extremely talented team, but no result in the CL because Wenger seems to play just the same in Europe as he does in the Premiership.

    Compare with Inter, last years winners; they played a style which brings together things that might be called "English" - rugged defending, for one - and also Italian - disciplined positioning - and also Spanish - quick interchange of play - and also South American...

    ...Essentially, the Champions League is the current height of football.

    If you don't do it there, you aren't the best. You won't ever be thought of as the best. It's not because European football is better; it's not even because Europe has more money, in truth. It's because Europe, with climates ranging from chilly in the north to sweltering heat in the south and temperate all between, attracts a greater diversity of players than any other continent in the world. I doubt this will ever change, even if the other continents improve fiscally.

    The climate is just too perfect for football.

    And Robinho still hasn't done it.

    I, personally, do not think he ever will, either. He just doesn't have the mental discipline required. Nor the determination. It is rather saddening that a player with such talent lacks the required determination, and, I think, alarming for the future of Brazil that this was not thrashed out of him at a young age. Then again: that's what Real Madrid do. Ruin talent.

    (Not literally thrashed, though that might have been a good idea...)

  • Comment number 87.

    @85
    The "Brazilian jogo bonito" myth is only the result of marketing campaigns by sports brands based on nothing but hype. Brazil haven't played "jogo bonito" since 1982.

    Funnily enough, the closest to jogo bonito we've seen in the past couple of decades has come from Argentina (post 1990) who just like Brazil 1982, have impressed with their football but got no WC trophies to show for it.

    Spain?, who are we kidding?, they are just Barcelona with a different goalkeeper and a coach deputising for the real coach who is Guardiola. By transferring their style into the national team, they rendered all other strategies obsolete with one clean swipe.

    Of all the teams they faced in the WC, probably only Chile and Paraguay had a go at them but they lacked the sufficient firepower to cause enough damage. All the others, including the Germans seemed confused about how to play against them and opted for giving up from the beginning. No need to mention the Dutch who simply opted for the "Total Karate" approach.

    Can't see any european team able to beat Spain for the time being. I do think a well balanced South American team would be too much for them though. But they have to get that balance right first.

    It'll be interesting to see how the South Americans react to this new scenario. Argentina are probably in the strongest position needing to strengthen their defense and find a decent goalkeeper to have a really strong team. If they do, they'll be the team to beat.

    Brazil?, we'll have to wait and see how they fare against tougher opposition in something other than just a friendly. It will be tough not having the likes of Romario and Ronaldo to carry them to glory. The jury is still out on Robinho, which is amazing considering that by now he should've demonstrated a lot more than what he has. He has the skill but seems to lack in the character department.

  • Comment number 88.

    @42 "...Batistuta..."

    now that was a great striker. Along with Romario and Ronaldo easily the best 3 strikers to come out of South America in the past however many years.

  • Comment number 89.

    @60 ...

    That's the funniest comment I've read for a while, your sarcastic remarks were just spot on. Thanks for the laughs.

  • Comment number 90.


    The champion's league is a mind-numbingly dull tournament. The group stages drag before the cat and mouse 'who can steal an away goal then shut up shop?' knockout nonsense. By the final you've already guessed the winner and are more concerned with rediscovering a will to live.

    If Robinho goes on to win another 8 Brazilian championships and cups and a couple of copa de libertadores has his career been a disappointment?

    Cruyff, Careca, Stoichkov - I don't admire these players for their trophies, but for what I've seen them do.
    I'd like to see Robinho out of limbo and back at a club that gets the tricks out the bag.

  • Comment number 91.

    I don't think the EPL is conducive to the way that Brazilians' play. It is too fast and furious. I remember when Júlio Baptista left Arsenal after his one season, he complained that he had had no time on the ball so couldn't play how he wanted. Of course, maybe he wasn't as good as we and he thought he was.

    However, as good as Brazil have been over the years they also know how to play rough when circumstances dictate. It's just that their tough guys can also play a bit when the chance arises. I think that our harsh weather is a big negative factor for South Americans when they come here.

  • Comment number 92.

    Robinho is overrated and utter garbage he reminds of the earlier denilson that completed a whopping money move to real betis, earned millions and since then dissapeared off the scale.

  • Comment number 93.

    It really quite simple what he needs to do.
    WORK HARDER for himself and the team !!!
    He's certainly good enough to play in the EPL but player like Rob need to earn there place like everyone else. Its like playing with 10 men when he isnt interested and no team needs that as its hard enough already.

  • Comment number 94.

    #4 - I also have to register my protest against your comment not just regarding Ronaldo but Ronaldinho as well. The year he joined Barcelona - the man was immense single handedly leading them away from oblivion and a very improbably second place in the league. He was also the spearhead of Barcelona's title triumphs in 2004-05, 2005-06 their first for five years and only their second ever Champions League/European Cup win. I don't think I have ever seen a player so consistently incredible as Ronaldinho was then. In 2006-07 he was not as brilliant as the previous three seasons but was still magnificent nonetheless. Fair enough he has gone off the boil since then - but the man has won almost every single honour the sport has to give, including twice being the world player of the year, European footballer of the year and a world cup winner, oh and before we forget, he was given a standing ovation at the Bernebeu while wearing the shirt of Barcelona!
    The man is a certifiable great - to compare him to Robinho is just madness.

  • Comment number 95.

    #4 exiledspur - I refer you to my comments #11, #25 & #38 about Ronaldo ;) As for Ronaldinho I was talking about his talent fading away in recent years not his unquestioned former glories.

    I agree with Tim's comments #64 and #84 in arguing success in the Champions League is a decent barometer for demonstrating true footballing greatness nowadays, much more so than the World Cup or even national leagues. It is the competition where you get the most contrasting styles, tactics and playing conditions. I alluded to this much earlier in suggesting the truely great players are those prepared to step out of their usual comfort zone and mix it with more challenging and varied opponents.

  • Comment number 96.

    I've commented on here before about Robinho and I'' say it again - he's more interested in himself than the team. Also, if he wasn't Brazilian would there be so much hype about him?

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 97.

    Saw most of his games at the Spanish Liga tended to get knocked off the ball easy when he first started. He did get stronger but didn't like playing in front of the hostile crowds Real Madrid are sometimes confronted with usually against the basque teams, in contrast to Higuain who seemed to rise to the challenge.

  • Comment number 98.

    #64 Tim said, "for the 1000th time i'm not a spokesman for the country where i was born - point categorically dismissed."

    Oh I'm so sorry! I've read your columns so many times and I utterly failed to notice any of the previous 999 occasions!

    Seriously, get a thicker skin, Tim. Also, please learn to use capitalize the first letter of every sentence.

    "it is no longer possible to be considered a true great without making a mark in europe's champions league. the players know this better than anyone....everything has a price to pay - if robinho has the ambition of winning the world player of the year award, as he has frequently commented, he has to crack europe."

    Now, that is a logical response, as opposed to your earlier tantrum. But when was the last time Robinho actually said he wants to win 'World Player of the Year'? And even if he said it since moving back home, did he actually mean it or was he just playing to the local press?

    For all you know, he's given up those ambitions - even if he pays lip service to them to please his public and sponsors - and is just happy to be home, in his comfort zone, with lots of lovely coddling. And the good football is a by-product of that.

    There's more to life than a sport, even football. And once you've made a certain amount of money from it, happiness is far more important than making more money or proving yourself to the world. Robinho has proved himself to himself, and he seems to be at peace with himself. And you just seem to be ... not jealous per se, but ... overly purist.

    Look Tim, just try to keep in mind that footballers are people too.

  • Comment number 99.

    #16 I believe the ruling regarding the cancelling of contracts is already in place and has been for a few years, off the top of my head I think if you play less than 10% of your clubs games in a season you are able to cancel the contract... Dont quote me on this though as I'm going off memory here.

  • Comment number 100.

    Not sure I can agree with this article at all, especially this which summarises the theme: "even after playing some 80 times for Brazil, the same doubts surround him at international level."

    Really? He was proper class at the World Cup, especially when he linked up with Elano.

    In fact, for all the talk about how England and others couldn't cope with this light ball, he was threading passes through the eye of a needle time after time.

    What he lacks is the motivation, which shouldn't be the case. He doesn't like (or feels he deserves) to be left on the bench ever. I wish he was a United player, and I still believe he thought he was joining us when he went to Manchester.

    He, like many others have been in the past, was wasted at Real which is a shame because he would be a great fit with the team they have now.

    As far as returning to Santos, he knew that he'd be overlooked playing for City, because - like even Kaka and Messi - you should play him even if he only gets on the ball rarely, because the times when he does he can single handedly win a game.

    As far as his personality, from what i've seen he needs an arm around the shoulder - something he has rarely received in Europe.

 

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