Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wrecking Robinho

It has come to the attention of many that Robinho has left the room, two years to the day (the transfer deadline day, at least) since he waltzed in looking sheepish, surprised and a little bit confused, to be hugged by Mark Hughes and lifted off the ground by numerous strange heavies with an unidentifiable taste in cheap aftershave. No wonder he mentioned being delighted to be joining "Chelsea" when he finally got within spitting distance of a microphone. The kid was suffering from the first critical debilitating moments of Eau de Lune Bleu inhalation. Intoxicacao muito forte.

He was immediately and stunningly placed as the figurehead of the new blue revolution, a mouth-watering little folly by our day old owners from the desert. Wow, these guys are both serious and deeply frivolous, we thought. it's a comedy pairing that sits well with City, let's face it. Joe Royle's Cityitis did not envisage breaking the uk transfer record for a Real Madrid star known the world over. The slapstick we can do, possibly better than anybody bar a select few (Newcastle, Napoli, St Pauli) and even the other runners and riders have been taken seriously at one point or another.

Manchester City have not. Up to now. Robinho was the first small incredibly expensive step in that direction, taking us to a place both unaccustomed and uncomfortable for most who follow the fortunes of the Blues: serious contenders. Even now the phrase sounds a little quirky, like it has been stolen from yet another piece about Chelsea or Arsenal. Even Everton. But the blue Scousers are behind us now. Their supporters neither like us nor empathise with us anymore. We used to be brothers in the miserable shadow of megaliths. Now we are moving out ahead with the big boys and nobody likes them, let's be honest.

Robinho started well in his new home. Given the ball after a quarter of an hour of his debut against his suitors from West London, he swerved an impudent freekick around the wall and into the net. A genius of Kinkladze-esque delights had announced his arrival and the stands were in a fervent of delight. The little man played with a smile too, but gradually that smile, the lolling tongue, the darts to the camera for attention after a goal, became laboured and forced. One too many step-overs, failed dummies, misplaced passes littered his repertoire. Suddenly the mask was slipping and the nights were closing in.
 
hang on, twas never that bad
If the jinking Brazilian represented one thing, it was changeover. His input was too ephemeral to be lasting or truly meaningful but somehow he was the token image of this cluttered new City world, with its cadillacs, security phalanxes and omnipresent teams of architects. He flitted into our lives with the sumptuous touch of genius and - just for a moment - made us forget all those Danny Tiatto red cards, all those rainy sideways slaloms from Neil McNab and the shirt pulls of Andy Morrison. the delight of Goater and Dickov at Northampton suddenly seemed like pretty feeble stuff, a damp orgasm over a currant bun. Here was real football gateaux with a little cognac flaming on top. The G-spot had been located.

So he flipped one in against Arsenal, smashed one in against Twente, slid one in against Hull, his reputation for sizzling, delicate, slide rule finishes growing as fast as that of sniveling, bedraggled non-performer at the Britannia, the Reebok or any other windy, heaving northern hothouse with horizontal rain and jet-propelled insults. He viewed the tremulous row of wet faces at Hull with the veins standing up in their necks and something began to dawn. A little image of Vila Belmiro in the setting sun wafted through his consciousness. Recife, belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre. You could almost see that bewildered little boy look return to his features, the one that says "I don't understand why bad man made me do this".

As the away performances began to get more and more ludicrous, blatant in their displays of unwillingness, so the patience levels dropped alarmingly. By the time he scored a late and meaningless goal at Scunthorpe in the cup, it was clearly a joke that nobody wanted to be part of anymore. Could things have been handled better? certainly City would do well to understand what makes Brazilians tick. Elano seemed not to get what he wanted from his Manchester experience either and it is no good just hauling out the "toe the line" message when a player is obviously not enjoying life. Having said that, it was never evident that Robinho himself was pulling out all the stops, never did he come across as mature enough to carry this "project" through. A certain immaturity never seemed far from the surface. Let us hope that Milan treat him well and that he rewards them for it. We saw something of what the little man can do, but there could and should have been so much more. Boa sorte Robinho

a smile returns to the face of Robinho

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