Friday 24 March 2017

Value doesn't add up as Robinho struggles to prove his true worth

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ROBINHO earns £32 every two minutes, which is more than the average North Korean worker -- a group that includes the majority of their World Cup squad -- earns in a year. Whatever happened last night, Kim Jong-il was always going to be getting better value for money.

Nobody should feel too sorry for Manchester City, who quickly learned that awarding an individual a £160,000-a-week contract can be something of a stumbling block when you want to get rid of them.

The 26-year-old took a pay-cut in the region of £45,000-a-week to join Santos on loan in January, but his employers were still left to shell out £70,000 every seven days to someone who wasn't even there.

Yet on a freezing night in Ellis Park, which will have brought back memories of cold winters in the UK, Robinho was in the minority of Brazilian players who made a visible impact.

Given the underwhelming nature of the overall display, however, it just means he will be further down the hit-list when this Brazilian performance is analysed at home.

Certainly, it won't have gone unnoticed that the late fightback from the ultimate underdogs came when Dunga experimented by moving one his favourites into a central playmaking role.

We are still unsure of Robinho's true worth. Pele apparently named him as a possible pretender to his throne when he was just 15. No such comparisons are made now. Indeed, during his most turbulent spell in England, he was compared to Mirandinha.

Fate has conspired to potentially make this tournament his crowning glory. Actually, it's got more to do with Dunga than circumstance.

In tandem with Kaka, Robinho has been tasked with providing the flair in a Brazilian side which is more rigid than remarkable. Ronaldinho wasn't ever really considered. Instead, his berth on the left side of attack belongs to one of football's great anomalies; an in-demand superstar who top clubs are quite happy to sell.

When the Samba Boys recovered from a sluggish start to comfortably defeat Ireland in February, Giovanni Trapattoni's charges were raving about Robinho. "A different player to the one at Manchester City," said Liam Lawrence.

Ronaldinho's resurgence in the latter half of the season at AC Milan returned his international exile to the top of the list of criticisms aimed towards Dunga, with his club colleague Pato another absentee. Ultimately, the manager wasn't for turning, maintaining reservations about the duo's work-rate.

Yet he is satisfied with Robinho in that regard, a situation that would amuse or annoy his City team-mates who grew frustrated with his questionable attitude at training, a lack of desire to learn English -- when he had mastered Italian despite never living there -- and unusual attempts at rebellion, which included turning up at a European tie with his shirt hanging out and wearing a pair of trainers when a smart club suit was the dress code. And then there was his memorable car-buying competition with Stephen Ireland, as they vied for the role of training ground show-off.

Unlike Ireland, Robinho plays for his country, and is often more effective than for his paymasters.

Only three members of the Brazil squad have earned more caps under Dunga, with his integral role in Copa America success in 2007 carving his place in the manager's affections.

He started brightly with a surging run and a strike on goal and as the game developed, he began to roam as the opposition dropped deeper. A quiet spell before the interval was followed by a chirpy start to the second half, a dart from the right and a thunderbolt which fizzed wide.

Maicon's opener allowed the favourites to relax, and Robinho came to the fore when, with 18 minutes left, he went on a mazy dribble before picking out his good pal Elano, who converted with consummate ease. Elano was considered a bad influence when they were at Eastlands; their celebratory dance proved that their bond remains strong.

The arrival of Nilmar freed Robinho to move to the much desired role of the old fashioned No 10. He was walking back across the halfway line when Ji Yun Nam reduced the deficit and stood with hands on hips, away from the Brazilian recriminations. Good as he may be, he's nowhere near good enough to win this competition on his own.

Irish Independent

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