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Released Robinho vital for Brazil

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Paul Fletcher | 09:31 UK time, Tuesday, 29 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Johannesburg

Manchester City misfit Robinho might have failed to justify his £32.5m billing in the Premier League but in South Africa he is a pivotal part of Brazil's campaign to win the World Cup for the sixth time.

Rested against Portugal, he returned to the Selecao in Johannesburg on Monday as Brazil defeated Chile 3-0 to book a mouth-watering quarter-final tie against the Netherlands.

Robinho was named man of the match after a performance that saw him score his first goal at the tournament - a right-footed strike of exquisite precision from the edge of the box. The 26-year-old almost added to his tally. A low, angled shot was saved by Claudio Bravo before he was later thwarted by a marginal offside decision.

Robinho started on the left but constantly switched with Kaka as the attacking duo rotated either side of central striker Luis Fabiano. We did not see a particularly high number of mesmeric stepovers from Robinho, who at times in the past has appeared to be addicted to them, but I thought it was nonetheless an adventurous performance in which he was constantly seeking out space and trying to make probing, attacking runs.

In short, a player who so often looked frustrated anchored to the left touchline at City seems to be thriving on the licence to roam that he did not have in the Premier League.


"In England, they wanted him to be a good tactical player but he is not that. He needs freedom," said 63-year-old Tostao, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1970 and scored 32 goals in 54 appearances for his country. "For Brazil, he moves freely. He starts on the left but can go to the right or the centre. He does not have a fixed position."

Robinho, who developed his skills as a young boy by dribbling around gravestones in a cemetery near his house, joined City on 1 September 2008. It was a signing that underlined the scale and ambition of the Abu Dhabi United Group that was on the verge of taking over the club.

But Robinho failed to build on a promising debut season and in January rejoined Santos, the club where he started his career, on loan.

Robinho is described in Brazil as being slightly moleque, which alludes to his cheeky and playful demeanour. But he can also be petulant.

After winning two league titles in his first spell at Santos, he refused to train in order to secure a big-money move to Real Madrid. He then threatened to strike at Madrid in order to ensure the Spanish club sanctioned a transfer to Chelsea, although he ended up in Manchester following City's late swoop.

Tostao rates Robinho highly but admits: "He is a player I hoped would become one of the best in the world but he still is lacking some maturity as a person." Tostao also points out weaknesses in Robinho's play, namely heading, tackling and, occasionally, finishing.

There are plenty of critics who argue Robinho is lucky to be in South Africa. His return to Santos helped him sharpen his game but he found himself up against rising stars Neymar and Ganso, with many in favour of them going to South Africa rather than Robinho.

But Dunga, never one to acquiesce to public opinion, left the prodigiously talented duo at home and has been heavily criticised as a result for selecting a squad heavy on defensive players and light on flair.

Tostao, such a vital component of the incredible 1970 side that triumphed in Mexico, remains unconvinced by Dunga's Brazil.

"I see a lot of imperfections," the former Selecao striker, who now works as a journalist, told me. "Brazil is a team that is a little imbalanced. The left-back Michel Bastos is very exposed because he does not have anyone to help him. Sometimes Robinho does that but if he comes back a lot he breaks the link with players like Kaka and Luis Fabiano."

I thought Brazil's defensive unit were fantastic against a Chile side that had shown an admirable willingness to attack during their previous World Cup fixtures.

Dunga selected Ramires and Dani Alves alongside Gilberto Silva in midfield because he felt their pace would help to neutralise Chile's mobile creative players - and it was a ploy that unquestionably worked. Yellow shirts swarmed all over the opposition every time a Chilean found a threatening position.

However, the defensive team Dunga has moulded in his own image means that Robinho and Kaka are of exceptional importance to Brazil. They provide the samba, maintain their nation's footballing tradition and supply Fabiano with the service he needs.

Kaka had a disappointing season spent in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid and has hardly sparkled in South Africa, although in one sublime moment against Chile he underlined his importance.

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The 28-year-old played what must be the most exquisite and delicate pass of the tournament, one that unlocked the Chilean backline with surgical precision. Just one beautifully weighted touch transformed a square ball from Robinho into a pass that bisected the approaching defenders and released Fabiano for Brazil's second goal.

That moment aside, Kaka cut a largely frustrated figure and, on his return from suspension, picked up another booking for a crude and somewhat uncharacteristic challenge. He lacked the energy and willing of Robinho, who received a generous round of applause from Dunga when he was withdrawn after 85 minutes.

In truth, it was a comfortable victory for Brazil, who are certain to face a much sterner examination of their credentials when they meet the Netherlands.

And as the road narrows, Tostao is hopeful that Robinho, who seems certain to leave City on a permanent basis this summer, will keep Brazil on course for victory.

"He has an incredible ability and I am hoping that he is going to be brilliant in these few matches that are coming," concluded the great Tostao.

You can follow me throughout the World Cup at


  • Comment number 1.

    Tostao is right. Robinho is a child trapped in an adults body. Until he matures and grows up he will never become a truly great player.

  • Comment number 2.

    Highly amusing to read Tostao's split-personality critic of Robinho, Paul. I wonder what he would make of analyising the England team one-by-one ;) ?

    I've never been a mega Brazil fan as I'm one of those who think they are often over-hyped and given too much credit pre-tournament just for being who they are, but I have to say my opinion changed a lot last night. They all worked really hard, were very solid as a team but still tried to play decent stuff on the ball. They still tend to play-act a bit but look like real contenders.

    With obvious home field advantage is it worth anyone else going to Brazil in 2014 though?

  • Comment number 3.

    I've never been a fan of Brazil either. Whilst capable of playing fantastic football the right way they are also undisputed World Champions of feigning injury and seem to be improving year on year.

    Being a Chile fan, I can say they fully deserved victory last night but the two or three incidents of play-acting by their rather stocky centre half and left back (I think) were pathetic and spoiled it for me - and the fact they went unpunished by the referee and unmentioned by the dazzled and gushing commentary teams gives credence to the theory of the rose-tinted spectacles everyone wears watching a Brazil game. It's like playing against FIFA themselves...

    All teams cheat and feign nowadays, but Brazil are the undisputed kings of the game´s very own Cancer.

  • Comment number 4.

    Can't wait to see the Netherlands face-off against Brazil! Should be a great match!

  • Comment number 5.

    I am English and I am a fan of Brasil and am currently am living in Brasil. The atmosphere here is amazing. I am sure they are no worse at 'play acting' than any of the other teams that I have watched during the competition so far. They will win the cup and I reckon that although Brasil have a lot of fans worldwide they also have people jealous of their success that just like to say things to detract from the football that they play. I watch kids on the beach here that are more technically gifted than any of the England team.

  • Comment number 6.

    To Number 3

    I assume you are speaking about the penalty incident involving Lucio (cant seem to remember the other incident you mention).

    I thought that was a penalty and in fact think that his play acting (as it was a foul, i will assume yo mean the exaggerated expressions of pain in in face) probably helped the ref not to give it. I also hope this issue will be looked at internally (by the Brazil team) as we should have been awarded a penalty.

    But its important to note that most people feel that was a foul.

  • Comment number 7.

    Many players who don't do well here go on to be excellent elsewhere (Forlan, Veron the list is endless) because the premier league is too physical and brawns are encouraged over brains. That is precisely why our players always find it difficult on the world stage. Our passing and movement is too crude and imprecise and we are always exposed when we meet true quality (recall Man. United vs Barcelona CL final?)

    Robinho hates it here because the football is too much like Rugby. Instead of being an art we have made it a chore

  • Comment number 8.

    Now then,

    I think Dapsy (post 7) raises an interesting point, at a time when the English game is under intense scrutiny after Sunday's hammering by Germany.

    The Premier League is awash with money and has a huge global television audience - but does the high-octane brand of football we see really help England at international level?

    Is it the case that PL teams lack tactical sophistication and cannot play a system that accomodates a player with a free role?

    I would also love to know what Manchester City fans think of Robinho - are they pleased to see him doing well in South Africa? Did he get a fair chance at City?

  • Comment number 9.

    Deynadance is right about Robinho being a child trapped in an adults body, but it also has a genius footballing brain and skills to boot. If I had those attributes and was stuck out on the left of Man City's midfield I would be also slightly irked

  • Comment number 10.

    Funny how people seem to want to criticism the Brazilians for simulation. Brazil are always my favorite for the world cup. why? they are the only team that consistently endeavor to challenge for the trophy even when playing badly. Simulation is part of the professional game of football. the best players do it including england's finest. Brazil deserve all the hype they get; they are that good and are always eager to prove it by winning the trophy. They dont bask in the glory of a win so old that half the winning team is dead.Yes I mean England.truth be told England are rated so highly because the world's media is English when last did the English not look rabbit eyed in the face of Quality? Ronaldihno 2002, Zidane 2004, Ronaldo 2006, Ozil/Muller/swienstiger 2010. Brazil deserve the hype England dont deserve mention.

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't think Brazil play act more than any other team in football nowadays. I've seen players going down like a heavy weight boxer punched them on the face after being tapped on the foot ... trying to get a player sent off. I've never seen that in the Brazilian team (apart from Brazil versus Turkey in 2002). However, in this tournament, countless other teams have been doing it like it is the new trend

  • Comment number 12.

    7. At 12:22pm on 29 Jun 2010, Dapsy wrote:
    Many players who don't do well here go on to be excellent elsewhere (Forlan, Veron the list is endless) because the premier league is too physical and brawns are encouraged over brains. That is precisely why our players always find it difficult on the world stage. Our passing and movement is too crude and imprecise and we are always exposed when we meet true quality (recall Man. United vs Barcelona CL final?)


    That point is way too simplistic.

    Robinho needs a free role, yes, and Man City couldn't fit him in because they'd bought a surplus of important forwards to play centrally: Adebayor, Tevez, Bellamy and you've also got Ireland in the centre of midfield- whereas with Brazil he is crucial to their attacking play.

    Veron failed at Man Utd because, again, Utd had too many players of a similar type at the time- Keane, Scholes, Beckham- who wanted to run a game with their passing.

    Forlan failed at Man Utd simply because he was fighting for a place with strikers that were better than him at the time: Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

    Your general point about the Premiership encouraging physical play over technical play is too simplistic and bordering on utter rubbish. The likes of Manchester United and Arsenal play good football. Man Utd v Barcelona was not one team of hoofers against a team of technical wizards. A good footballing team that had reached the CL final for the second year running were beaten by a better footballing side that were better than anyone else in Spain. Simple as that.

    This Brazil (true quality?) are not only a team with technical skills but one that is tactically organised and physical. Juan, Lucio, Maicon, Felipe Melo, Julio Baptista are all strong powerful players, not little technical players. Ramires is busy and all action.

    So this assumption that England= long ball aggressive football and the rest of the world= attractive technical flair, and all our club sides are the same as the national side etc is not a valid one in my view.

  • Comment number 13.

    Tostao is wrong about the left side of defence for Brazil...Bastos might be considered weak link but the two defensive midfielders ( Gilberto Silva and Filipe Melo) , hardly go forwad and there is cover always when one of the wingbacks charges foward. And those wingbacks do not charge foward at every opportunity ( Like Glen Johnson), they do really pick their moments and they normally make it count.

    As for Robinho its good to see he is doing well...Being considered a failure in the EPL does not take away a players's natural talent and talent always shows. And its showing at the biggest stage of them , where the players who are considered stars in the EPL ( Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard, A Cole and JT) have crumbled. Robben and Forlan are the other players who did not do too well in the EPL but look at what they have gone to do in Germany and Spain respectively.

  • Comment number 14.

    #8 Paul wrote: Does the high-octane brand of football we see really help England at international level? Do PL teams lack tactical sophistication and cannot play a system that accomodates a player with a free role?

    You're expecting a 'NO' as the answer to your first question aren't you Paul but it should really be an emphatic YES!?; we simply don't show it or aren't able to transfer the 'high-octane' approach on to the international stage. The vast majority of the 'foreign' PL players - which is now the majority - manage the transition okay..maybe 'some' British players are too one-dimensional in their thinking or plain thick?

    PL teams 'get at'em quick' tactics are pretty successful in knocking out cultured 'foreign' teams in European comps eg. Fulham - so in theory it should work at World Cups too. There was no excuse with the weather this time for slow ball. Ronaldo and Rooney have played in the free-roles at United so it does happen..we just don't 'over examine' the tactics of games in the U.K, just wanna copy Brazil at World Cups!

  • Comment number 15.

    Lets not forget that Robinho did not justfy his price tag at Manchester City. But at the same time i feel the british media has been to harsh on him and eager to criticize him. He was City's highest scorer in his first season playing from the left wing but the media were always eager to criticize his away form and his workrate. According to them he did not have the "heart and determination" to be successful in the Primier League. What is this "English heart and determination" that people here always talk about? Why dont we see it in the biggest stage?

    Apparently just because he plays for a second rate team like Brazil does not mean he's good enough for Manchester City. And the fact that he performs in a second rate competition like the World Cup is no guarantee he is good enough for the Primier League, which is the true test of a footballer ofcourse.

    Well in my own humble opinion Robinho is best in the free role. He will never be good at tracking back and defending because he's just not strong enough. You cannot expect him to do what Rooney or Tevez does, that does not mean he's a bad player at all, he has his own strengths and weaknesses. I also think he plays better for Brazil as he does not have much defending responsibilities because they have atleast 6 players at any time capable of defending (4 defenders plus two defensive midfielders) which leaves him free to do his "thing".

    Id also like to mention that Elano was City's highest scorer the season before Robbie came..... and he was treated the same way. Both are Premier League "flops" apparently.

  • Comment number 16.


    Some good comments but being a CITY fan and watching Robhino week in and week out he frustrated the hell out of me. Robhinio arrived with a fanfare and at times looked unstopable but his consistency was up and down and he lost confidence. I'm not sure it is a Robhino problem, more of a Brazilian problem. How may Brazilians have been successful in the Premiership?? Elano (a good half a season at CITY), Kleberson (Utd) was awful.

    Its strange because you look at the succesful Argentina players in the Premiership and yet Brazilians struggle.

    Thoughts please?

  • Comment number 17.

    Following an impressive career on the pitch, Tostão - who is a lovely person - has become one of the country's most admired commentators on the game. I too would love to hear his analysis of the England team, but he is far too discreet to proffer one.
    Robinho and Elano's problems at MC had a lot to do with the people who were managing them, but also highlight a tactical rigidity in the English game that seems to have robbed our players of their ability to think for themselves and adjust to the flow of the game on the pitch, with a direct reflection in the 'captain' controversy (though Gerrard did his best to lead by inspiration and was our best player by a long chalk).
    Dunga, who was an intelligent and inspirational captain for Brazil, was underestimated as a player and continues to be underestimated as a manager. The pressure on Brazil to perform is at least as great as that on Brazil. There are 190 m people here who are all 'experts' and expect the team not only to win, but to do so in the free-flowing style with which their team is associated. However, we have seen in the past that style doesn't always go hand in hand with results, and fans clamour for results in first place. Hence the pragmatic way he selects and sets up his teams and the intelligent substitutions during the course of the game (contrast with Capello). Of course he hasn't abandoned style - you have to have players who can take on and beat defenders (hence my dismay at the premature discarding of Lennon) - but it is harnessed to a winning structure.
    Thankfully, once the immediate emotion has worn off, the teams that people remember are the ones that illuminated the game: the truly great Hungary ('56), Brazil ('70), Holland ('74) and Brazil ('82) and those that have played shining bit parts, like Cameroon, Denmark, France, Italy....

  • Comment number 18.

    to BLRBrazil who said "Robinho and Elano's problems at MC had a lot to do with the people who were managing them, but also highlight a tactical rigidity in the English game that seems to have robbed our players of their ability to think for themselves and adjust to the flow of the game on the pitch"

    As a Man City fan who witnessed both players tenure at our club, I can assure you their problems had much more to do with dreadful attitudes than any tactical rigidity or mis-management. In difficult games both players regularly went missing and were, without doubt, fair weather players......If you can't play in the rain, you can't claim to be world class. Not that I'm defending the premier league or the style of play adopted by City...but please, please, please don't portray Robhino & Elano as mis-managed shackled superstars.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think we also have to remember that Robinho was deemed surplus to requirements at Real Madrid and probably rightly so. He disappeared in so many games as he did away from home for Man City. He has the potential to be a great player but simply wont make that legendary status.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm a Brazilian myself and I'm just back to Brazil following 17 magnificent years in London. You English are the ultimate football supporters, and you just need to look at the full stadia wherever England are playing to realise that. You're nuts when it comes to football! I do understand the British mentality regarding diving and faking fouls, and that goes very much along with the nature of your society and values. That is great and honourable, but societies are different, and those differences show not only on the way our society behaves as a whole, but also in the way we play our sports. What you guys see as cheating, we see as cunning. In these South American countries where military dictatorships oppressed the nations for many years, authority is seen with disdain by the people. And that authority, on the pitch, is the damn refereee we all hate here with passion. In our minds here, it is down to the referee to decide what is right or wrong, and not the players. If you have the opportunity to deceive the b*st*rd in black, then great. That is one of the reasons why Maradona's first goal against England here in South America is still regarded as even better than his second: an unpunished moment of genius. I'm not saying that is right, but to criticise it, it is better if you first understand it. But with more and more South American players nowadays playing in Europe, that has been changing. Nevertheless, as you say it yourselves, you can take a player out of South America, but you can't take South America out of the player. Holland should give us a tougher game.

  • Comment number 21.

    With typical Old World condescendence and arrogance, Mr. Fletcher makes it seem as if it were Holland who have won all those World Cups, rather than Brazil. If either side has anything to prove in the upcoming match, I should think that will be the Dutch.

  • Comment number 22.

    A Brazilian comment on post #7. When in London, I used to go to Regent's Park for a kick about. It was great fun, but whenever I played the English, more often than not, most players used to wear proper football boots and shinpads. They played seriously, relatively roughly and had no qualms about giving sliding tackles. Typical English game, even though they were just having a kick about. Here in Brazil, in the meantime, in that same kick about, you'd most likely be excluded from the game if you came wearing shinpads, proper football shoes and distributing sliding tackles for free. A kick about here in Brazil is for a laugh, not for winning. There is a football court down the window from where I live here in Sao Paulo. Most of the games the kids play here, they spend more time wasting goals than scoring them. Many are barefoot, unprotected, trying to score with their heads, their bums, bicycle kicks, with their heels... You name it. There is barely much running around, as their laughs take most of their energy. Now, watch a Brazilian striker face-to-face with a keeper. For Brazilians and Argentinians, in that situation, you MUST dribble past the keeper, otherwise, you're not better than the keeper and the goal was just a goal. We certainly have different approaches to football. Shame England are out.

  • Comment number 23.

    What impresses me most about Brazil in general is their defense! Nobody scores against them! Why? They are all athletes who are very fast and nimble. They do not have any carthorses like Terry or Gareth Barry.

    Their defense often gets overlooked because of the focus on their attacking Robinho!

  • Comment number 24.

    #23. People forget that Brazilian defenders play against some of the best dribblers in the world whilst growing up in Brazil. If you're not a good defender here in Brazil, the good dribblers make you feel miserable. One of the ways to impose yourself against opponents here in Brazil, is by demoralising them with endless dribblings. A good dribbling is better than a goal. That is why Garrincha is known to all here in Brazil as "the joy of the people". You may find something on youtube about him. Good fun.

  • Comment number 25.

    RE Brazilians in Manchester: "If you can't play in the rain, you can't claim to be world class."

    Well, it's a good job that there hasn't been any rain in South Africa then, eh? Following that logic also leads one to conclude that there can't be any Brazilians playing for German or Russian clubs - even either of the Milan clubs would be a stretch given the conditions there.

    This has more to do with the boneheaded culture of English football as much as anything, where effort and commitment are placed above actually having skill.

  • Comment number 26.

    As for simulation being "part of the game"...well actually I beg to differ. "Simulation" or CHEATING as it should be known is a relatively new entry into the game of those of you who were born before 1980 will probably know! In fact it was the Klinsman era German team that started it with exaggerated dives and rollling around a hundred the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    In fact I vividly remember a televised game involving Spurs in 1991 when Nayim cut into the box and came near a defender and he dived. The ref waved play on and the replay showed the defender had made no contact. The commentary and half time analysis talking heads were simply outraged that a player could dive like that in the English League! It was simply not done in those days.....and was certainly frowned upon as poor sportamnship. Fast forward 20 years and people would not bat an eyelid.

    I have even seen diving quite alot in my over 30 indoor soccer wednesday night soccer league...with players going down under the slightest touch and pretending they have been hit in the face with an elbow when you are marking them to get you carded. I never saw this sought of stuff when I played in indoor leagues in the UK in the 1980s. Now it is rife.

    Win at all costs has replaced sportsmanship.

  • Comment number 27.

    To #26. Strange you English complain about diving as cheating, but say practically nothing about shirt-pulling, which takes place thousands of times in any game, particularly in England. A defender can pull the shirt of an attacker and gain an unfair advantage, and still not be demonised for it. Now, if you dive, you should be banned from the game. Strange? And how about all those other cynical and violent fouls that have almost crippled dozens of players over the years, particularly in the roughly played Premier League? Well, no need to answer that. It is just a comment I don't often here in the British press.

  • Comment number 28.

    It's just way too soon to declare Robinho a success for Brazil. He has consistently struggled in big games. His physical and mental shortcomings hurt his game when things get rough as he is easily contained by tight marking.

    I think this Brazilian side is strong no doubt, especially in the defense. However, Dunga's call up lack strength in depth which could prevent the team from advancing if either L. Fabiano or Kaka cannot play.

    Truth to be told, the Dutch will be the first real test for Brazil.

  • Comment number 29.

    Robinho's agent will have made sure he understands he's playing for a contract in warm climes next year, or its a season in Man City reserves...... Oldham Reserves away in February?

  • Comment number 30.

    to #27...I have no idea what you are on about. I never said anyoen should be "banned from the game." I simply made the point that simulation is relatively new to the game....which you do not dispute. I will not absolve english players of doing they do. e.g. Gerrard in the 2005 Champions League Final. Obvioulsy we have got to the point where if you don't do it then you are a severe disadvantage. "If you can't beat them joint them."

    Protecting players has imporved and rightly so. You don't want to see players like Messi getting hacked down like Maradone was. You cannot go in studs up, two footed or slide tackle from behind. But that has nothing to do with diving.

    The fault lies with the referees who don't seem to be able to discern clear fouls from simulation. I would like to see a straight red for simulation...

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm Brazilian too, and as a football lover I'm always disgusted when I see acting and diving on the field. I do have to admit that this kind of thing seems to happen more often in latin american sides, even though the world is sadly catching us up. Having said that I have to highlight that diving and cheating are not the biggest cancer of the sport at all. The sort of tackles and shirt-pulling that are allowed mainly in EPL are just as annoying, if not more. How many talented players have had their leg broken in two pieces lately? Why is it becoming more and more usual? It's not reasonable for a player to dive and feign an injury but it seems to be the only way to get the referees attention nowadays! Brazil has lost 3 key players(Elano, Felipe Melo and Julio Baptista) to injury so far, all of them due to awful tackles. How many players were sent off for that? Not a single one, instead we had Kaka red carded for absolutely nothing! It's funny how diving has become a major issue and are in fact the reason many englishmen dislike teams like Brazil and Argentina, but criminal tackles and strategical fouling are regarded as a minor issue.

  • Comment number 32.

    #22,24,27 Fausto
    Some very good comments, and thanks for your comments particularly explaining the cultural differences, I had never realised that.

    For us English, Maradonna's 'Hand of God' will never be forgiven or forgotten - its why we call the game FOOTball.

    I do love the Brazilian style, it always looks so easy and simple, and they can also definitely compete 'physically' with other teams when they need too. Hopefully the game against Holland will be a cracker!

  • Comment number 33.

    To: goggyturk

    I am referring to Robhino and Elano specifically...both of whom performed very very poorly whenever the sun dipped behind a cloud. I have no doubt whatsoever that there are many Brasilian players who perform no matter what the weather, but I sat in the stand and watched Robhino and Elano week in/week out and if it wasn't sunny and the opposition didnt sign a 'non contact' pact before the game, they didnt want to know.

  • Comment number 34.


    You are the only sport writer that have ever written anything positive about Robinho since his £32.5m transfer to Man City. I reckon more than anything else this has to do with jealousy and envy rather than actual fair criticism.

    Everytime I watch match of the day I see Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen laughing at Robinho while watching clips of Man City games at the same time hailing James Milner and Gareth Barry for their fighting and aggression spirits.

    In his first season at Man City he was their highest goal scores behind Anelka and Ronaldo and the following season he started with injury and often stuck in the left handside of the midfield in a 4-4-2 formation. You stick Messi on the left wing in a 4-4-2 formation and instruct him to support the left back and tell me if that will get the best out of him.

    The thing is we English prefer hardworking aggressive players and have zero tolerance for players with flair and skill. In the Brazil team he has very little to do with the defence as they have 6 people to carry out defensive duties..They prefer him to use his energy to run at defenders, make run to create space for others than runing back to defend.

    No disrespect to Alan Shearer but what has he ever won in the international stage? I'm sorry you are not a great footballer until you have achieved something at the world stage and Robinho is surely doing so. He was happy at the Madrid until the then dumb president proposed to swap him with Ronaldo that is when he threw his pranks out.

    I don't wan to comment on the England team performance but I guess I will have to. I'm sorry but in my opinion Gareth Barry should not be representing England at world stage. His is very slow, he has poor technique, he did not make a sucessful 40yrds pass through out the tournament, he cannot retain possesion then please tell me why his considered as an England international? At some point the media were saying he is a pivotal memeber of the team.. What the heck?

    I think we really need to start from the grass root. The truth is we are simply not good enough. Rooney scored 30goals in the league sorrounded by Nani, Valencia, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. He can score all those goals against the likes of Nick Barmby, Mathew Upson, Titus Bramble, Richard Dunne, Abate, Favali and Zambrota but in the world cup you are playing against the best 11 of a nation and you need to step your game up when it matters but Rooney failed to do so.

    We need to invest on players and encourage players with flair and skill and not coach it out of them like we often do in England. Metus Ozil, Robinho, Kaka, Robben, Sneijder, Aguero, Pastore..we don't have anything like these players. I fear for the future of English Football. who is going to represent us in Brazil 2014??????

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm not English but why should England try to be something that they are not? I'm one that believes that ANY style can win if played well. The Italians are not the most gifted technically but are historically great tacticians that play defensive counter-attacking football. They've got 4 World Cup trophies to show for it. I could go on about the different footballing cultures but I'll focus on England. British/English football, in it's finest manifestation, can dictate play in a game and compete with any style in the world. It can be fast-paced yet discplined, physical without being reckless, passionate without being violent, technically proficient as a Beckham cross or Owen's finishing, as visionary as a Best or Gascoigne. IF DISCIPLINED and well-executed, yes even fast-paced and physical longball can win games. At its best it's even a delight to watch.
    I think the problem lies are lack of growth over the years in management and training. The best examples of British managers are Sir Alex, Hodgson, O'Neill, Redknapp and Moyes. There are far too many managers however getting certified with perhaps good leadership and motivational ability, but are deficient in tactical awareness, organization and have inferior training techniques. Tony Adams, Phil Brown and others are a glaring example of this. Badges are given out like raffle tickets. The FA needs to make some serious improvements at a grass roots level in the overall training and organization of it's future coaches. Making wholesale changes to the English footballing culture (i.e. playing twinkly toes footy) shouldn't really be necessary... only refining and improving on the style that already exists.

  • Comment number 36.

    #27 There is an obvious moral difference between pulling a short and sumluating a foul.

    Shirt pulling, while a foul, does not get the opposition player in trouble, it only gets the shirt puller in trouble with the ref.

    Simulation, diving etc is, apart from an attemtpt to get a free kick or penalty, an attempt to get an opposing player in trouble for something he has not done! Therefore it is a far more reprehensible form of cheating.

    So you are comapring apples and oranges.

  • Comment number 37.

    Would another well off EPL club take a chance on Robinho if he showed desire to stay? Surely his asking price is below the 25 pound mark by now.....right? It's not as if City need the money.

  • Comment number 38.

    To #36. In Latin America, no one dives to get the opposite player in trouble. They dive here to cheat on the referee. Reason why defenders here in South America never challenge the diver if a penalty or yellow card is awarded. They see it as a failure of the referee to distinguish between right and wrong, and not the diver for trying his luck. Also, you dive to gain an advantage by cheating, exactly like shirt-pulling. You pull the shirt, in an angle hidden from the ref's eyes. Call it what you want, but that is not fair play. Neither diving or shirt-pulling belongs to the game of football, both are unfair, but you guys tend only to demonise the diver. Unbalanced judgement.

  • Comment number 39.

    Comments 20 and 22 are excellent. I have lived and worked more than 30 years in Latin America. However, what they describe as cunning in the face of authority is termed by many as the culture of the ratero (the thief, usually petty). In UK, we used to be brought up not to lie or cheat (I exclude financiers and bankers) but in LA, such behaviour is often grudgingly admired as a suitable coping strategy, not just to deal with dictatorial authority and cynical burocracy, but also, for large sectors of society, to survive poverty and insecurity.

    As a footnote, for the large populations of poorer people in LA, football is often one of the few passtimes available to them, hence it´s wide popularity. In UK, with much lower levels of poverty, young people seem to be abandoning football in favour of other sports and leisure activities that are only available to the rich in LA. Maybe that´s why LA produces so many highly skilled footballers.

  • Comment number 40.

    @#38....yes but the effect of diving and simulation, if not always the intent, is to get an innocent party in trouble.

    That's why it is looked down upon more than shirt pulling.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think the biggest problem is that the England team doesn't play like a Premiership team. The only time in the Germany game we were dominant and looked like scoring was just after Lampard's 'goal' and the team started to hustle and up the tempo. The rest of the tournament England were so slow/lethargic. The Premiership teams have dominated the Champions League (Barcelona are the only other team that consistently threatens) so the brand of football we play is fine. Sure these Premiership teams have a lot of high class foreigners but they still all play a high tempo and physical game (more so than Liga, Serie A, etc).

    The question should be why do these English players feel the need to slow their game down on the International stage? Perhaps we need to get a Premiership manager into the England job and hope, due to his background, that he keeps this style of play for the England team. Capello and Sven had no experience of the PL and the style of play the players were used to (since all the team ply their trade here, except Beckham). The foreign managers that come into the PL in general are either busts (Jol, Ramos, Sven, Scolari, Benetiz (league)) despite successes elsewhere or thrive (Wenger, Mourinho), and all play PL 'football' except maybe Arsenal. It could possibly be argued that Arsenal haven't enjoyed any success in last half decade compared to the early Wenger years because the rest of the teams technical abilities are closer and coupled with the always present tempo/physicality has meant that Arsenal can no longer rely solely on their skill being so much they lost their hustle in Vieira.

    So, next England manager should have a successful PL history.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think it is some what stupid to bring in a manager of a group of players in which the manager has no experience of the type of football they are used to and the players have never played the type of football the manager is known for.

  • Comment number 43.

    I would never knock Robinho as he is exactly my type of player but MOM last night ? No way. I thought he scored a lovely goal but didn' t do too much else. The problem with these mindless MOM awards from ITV is that they almost invariably go to someone who has scored a goal. Lucio was miles better than Robinho last night.

  • Comment number 44.

    It like wondering why Bill Gates did not do well at Harvard but made Microsoft work. Of course he could have done well and got a job maybe at Apple or IBM but he is much greater than that. This is the world cup. If Robinho can engineer a World Cup success for Brazil, that's way more success than getting a place alongside Santa Cruz, Adebayor and SWP.

  • Comment number 45.

    Having a free role does indeed suit Robinho. When he goes onto the pitch, he plays for himself, rather than Brazil.

  • Comment number 46.

    As I said it before, you can take Robinho out of Brazil, but you can't take Brazil out of Robinho. Robinho plays inconsequent football, the football from the streets, the beach and the slums. Watch a Brazilian playing for his European team and then for his national team, wearing the yellow shirt with his compatriots, and you'll see two different players. Brazilian forwards like playing the inconsequent football. That is Robinho's role for Brazil now, and the same for Ronaldinho in 2002 in Japan. Put Robinho in the cold, away from his favela mates and samba, within a strict style of play, and you'll not see Robinho. I don't like Robinho and never will, but at least I understand the guy. I find it amazing clubs are willing to invest MILLIONS on a player, and they don't even do the necessary homework. You can pay whatever you want for Robinho. He will only thrive in certain suitable conditions, no matter what.

  • Comment number 47.

    #38 perfect example of cheating today:

    Ricardo Costa getting a red card....he didn't touch the Spanish player and the play acting by Joan Capdevila gets him sent off.

    OK it did not effect the result but this is the kind of stuff that you will not see English players doing. The same thing happened when the Greek player was given a light kick and went down like he had been hit in the face with a sledghammer v. Nigeria....It's pathetic tiresome and a bad example.

  • Comment number 48.

    Asking the ref to card another player by holding up a phantom card should be an automatic yellow card.

  • Comment number 49.

    one performance blogs.

  • Comment number 50.

    Why English players should learn something about passion.....from Robinho

    Robinho was heavily criticized by media and fans alike last season for his attitude towards Manchester City both on and off the pitch but especially for his lacklustre attitude towards matches, especially away games at lower clubs. He did not enjoy the football, the situation at the club, and he prissied around like a little baby until he got his return on loan to Santos. He was accused of being passionless, a prima donna, a mercenary only interested in money, to name but a few of the terms that the mods will let me get away with writing on this website.

    Now, hang on a sec!

    He is Robinho, Brazilian born and another samba boy with Brazilian culture in his blood. He went to a club on the other side of the world and it wasn't even the one he wanted to go to. Most of you will remember his opening interview saying how much he was looking forward to playing....for Chelsea! His agent organised the transfer and he received incredible wages and signing-on fee. When he was told that he could not play in a free role like he has always done, he did not like it. Ok, imagine a Premier league team signing Messi - would we expect him to defend? Did Ronaldo at Man U?

    But, more importantly, this was Robinho's job. What reason could he have to play with true passion? Did he support Man City? No. I don't think he even knew who they were! Imagine Rooney or Gerrard playing for a foreign side that is not even one of the top sides and being told that they were not in a central role and would have to 'do a job for their team'. Would they play out of their skin like they do for Manchester Utd and Liverpool? No, of course not.

    Now look at Robinho for Brazil. He plays with more passion and determination to win than most at the World Cup. Why the difference? He is playing for Brazil. He is playing for his country. He is wearing his national colours. This is, and should be, his passion. Not Man City v Burnley but Brazil v ...well anyone really.

    My (rather waffled) point is that Robinho treated Man City, to whom he had no connection or allegiance, like a job whereas he plays his heart out for his country....who do not pay him his wages.

    Now look at England's players. The likes of Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, etc. play their heart out for their clubs....who pay them their wages. Then, when it comes to playing for England.....? - you see more passion at a council meeting on road safety!

    England's players should learn from Robinho about where loyalties should be held. Not to clubs in far-off lands who pay well, but for your country, for the dreams and passions of all your countrymen.

    It is the World Cup where dreams are made, not the day job!

  • Comment number 51.


    Just a quick post to say many thanks for the comments - there have been some truly outstanding points made and arguments put forward. And what really pleases me is that they obviously come from lots of different perspectives, written by people from different countries and footballing cultures.

    As for post 49 - I dare say Robinho would disagree with that, but thanks anyway.

  • Comment number 52.

    @ 50 But it is in the day job that fortunes are made and even if you haven't a clue who you have signed for you owe them hard work and loyalty whilst they are paying you extraordinary (or even ordinary sums of money)

    I have watched Robinho playing for City and been thrilled and exasperated in almost equal measure. And I think Robinho did know where he was going and certainly played with passion and enjoyment in his first season.

    Picking up on a few points, he rarely played on the left of a 4-4-2 at City - for the last two seasons City have tried to play a fluid 4-2-3-1 with the attacking wide players supporting the centre forward and so Robinho always had a free role, which started on the left but had the freedom to come inside when opportunities arose. In his first season it worked well he linked well with Ireland and Elano when Elano was in the mood and scored 15 goals. Yes, he struggled away from home, but then so did the whole team and the reality is that you need better defensive players than City had in 2008/9 to fully exploit a player like Robinho - because he is not going to track back and help with the defensive side of the game - and when he does he's more of a liability than a help.

    Robinho's troubles in Manchester started with the rape allegation - his initial response was to disappear from the training camp in Spain and re-appear in Brazil, it took 3 months until the investigation was completed and he played with the weight of the world on his shoulders and scored no goals until after it was announced there would be no further action.

    In 2009/10 he started the season playing on the left of an attacking 4 but struggled to fit in with the new players, by the end of August he was injured and didn't return until the end of November when he was clearly still struggling for fitness and was joining a team that was also beginning to struggle but who were now reliant on Bellamy and Tevez for their attacking spark and whose style didn't fit with Robinho's - in fact Bellamy had made that left attacking midfield role his own and whilst Robinho was missing Tevez had become the star man - Robinho seemed to struggle with his place in the pecking order.

    Mark Hughes was clearly trying to integrate Robinho back into the team but was exasperated by the time of his last match. Mancini initially tried to find a place for him - but it was the Italian Mancini rather than the British Hughes who demanded more disciplined performances from all his players and who in the end gave up on him - bringing him on as a substitute and then substituting him and not using him for the League Cup semi-finals.

    I would love to have the Robinho of Sept - Jan 2008/9 back at City - but he is a player that needs to be happy and having apparently blamed Mancini for all his troubles he is unlikely to return with his positive head on, so I hope someone decides he is worth the transfer fee and the wages and the inevitable fall out and offers him an fresh opportunity - but it is intersting that whilst his agent has been touting him to Barcelona in particular there doesn't seem to any rumours coming out of any clubs suggesting they want him - perhaps the clubs who he believes he should be playing for will look at the way he left Santos, Real Madrid and now City and decide he not woirth the investment.

  • Comment number 53.

    you make me laugh daynadance then great players are the English? do not come near the Brazilian players and you still speak a boob like that.

  • Comment number 54.

    Fausto - great comments, it's nice to have a different point of view
    xpat73 - I think the referee's should definitely bring in AT LEAST a yellow card for fake card waving. That really is cheating...the act of trying to get someone else sent off. I'd give a straight red mate.

  • Comment number 55.

    Robinho, Kaka and Fabiano are the ones who change the course of the game with their exquisite ball play and deadly finish. The rest of the team is a compact and massive structure always conscious of their defensive duties. The Dutch with their all round abilities will surely test the Brazilians more than any so far. Best wishes to the two sides.

    Good insights Paul. Thanks.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho


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