Each week Simon Bunn looks back at a player that arrived in the Premiership with a huge reputation, and often a hefty transfer fee, and failed to deliver. This time, it is Manchester City and Robinho...
The 1st September 2008 was a monumental day in the history of the Premier League. The events of that day would help to shape what we know today as the dominating forces in English football.
It was the day that Manchester City was bought out by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan. Along with their arrival the absurdly wealthy Arab investment company, ‘Abu Dhabi United Group’, wanted to make a statement. That statement was the £32.5m purchase of Brazilian Robinho. Not only was it a huge coup, it was achieved under the noses of fellow ‘rich kids’ Chelsea, who had been the favourites to land the gifted forward after he had publicly staked a desire to play for a London club.
Robinho arrived in England on the last day of the transfer window, but flopped as soon as his feet hit the cold Manchester floor and he was introduced to the English press for the first time. Talking of his move the Brazilian fluffed his lines by saying, "On the last day, Chelsea made a great proposal and I accepted." A confused reporter challenged him by asking if he was meant to say ‘Manchester City’ to which Robinho answered "Yeah, Manchester, sorry!"
The Brazilian’s media faux-par was quickly forgotten, City fans didn’t care, they had a new hero and he wasted no time illuminating the Premiership with the type of skill and charisma that only a ‘samba boy’ can possess. In the strange way that football works Robinho’s first goal in England came against Chelsea, and just over a month later he scored his first Premiership hat-rick against Stoke. His form continued and Robinho finished his debut season as City’s top goal scorer with 14 goals. It was a tally that also placed him as the fourth most prolific player in the league.
Robinho’s second season was a stark baron contrast. He missed the first 3 months of the campaign with injury, before coming back to feature in only 12 games. In those 12 games his return was one un-staggering goal, which came in the FA Cup against Scunthorpe United. With things not going to Robinho’s liking the Brazilian became childishly awkward, forcing a January loan move to his boyhood club Santos. When he returned to City in the summer he made it clear that he was seeking a move away from the club. He left City with a grand total of 16 goals and 9 assists in 53 games. Robinho was sold toMilanfor £15m, meaning that the Manchester club had suffered a loss of £17.5m on their marquee signing.
Robinho started life in Milan brightly, scoring 14 goals in Seria A. But, just like at City, he suffered from second season syndrome. Now in his third season with the Italian club Robinho is struggling for games, in a struggling team, and reports are already linking him with a January return to his homeland.
It’s hard to call such an obviously talented player a ‘flop,’ especially as he did produce moments of brilliance in England, and perhaps has a valid point when he said, "I believe it was good for me and for City, because I opened the doors for other big players to come to City. Maybe if I hadn't signed there, no other big player would have signed there. I was the first of the big players present in this club. So it was good."
Still, considering the price that City paid for him and the fact that the great Pelé lauded Robinho as the eventual successor to himself then you have to call him a flop.
What do you think?
image: © Alfonso Jimenez