the poster child

the development and current state of the modern game is often the subject of intense criticism from media and fans. they say they fear that there is too much money in football these days (obviously, these fear mongers have never been to the US… we would love for there to be more money in soccer over here). they say that all of this money is ruining the game, that it’s turning it into nothing more than corporate profits, or the playthings of the super rich.

robinho's scowl from the bench was always entertaining to see. take that you little brat.

i, for one, am not against the influx of cash into the sport. personally, i think all of the money has done wonders for the game. it’s gone into improving training facilities, helping to “build” better players through increased medical and fitness staffs. we wouldn’t have freakishly incredible physical specimens like ronaldo if it weren’t for the the increase in funding for training centers.

and though the bigger leagues (premier league, la liga, etc.) have tended to hoard all of the big name talents due to the lure of financial reward, it’s also raised the level of competition in those leagues to unbelievable heights. without that increase of money into the game, i don’t think we would be seeing the level of football that we are all now enjoying.

but i get where those fears come from. there is no doubt in my mind that every club with any aspiration can be blinded by the potential of profits that come with being an elite level club.

need some examples? go to wikipedia and read up on leeds united. teams have been hedging on potential future earnings, and spend themselves into west ham sized debt holes. think of the dreadful situation going on at portsmouth, who are fighting off their creditors daily due to their overspending. all they have to show for it is an FA cup. well that, and a future as uncertain as brett favre’s.

let’s not forget the players either, who are chasing the money these days, too. they chase the carrot from one club to the next, which is drastically decreasing the likelihood of us seeing career, one-club men like ryan giggs or raúl again in the near future. “loyalty to clubs is dead,” many a pundit will tell you. with some players making £150,000/week, i don’t blame them for saying so.

and while those threats are real, if clubs would learn to spend wisely, invest in their youth teams to build new talents, the influx of money won’t be as big of a potential trouble as many are making it out to be. however, this type of fiscal responsibility may only come about if fifa/uefa force the hands of the clubs. (god, did i just side with platini on an issue? kill me now.)

i know it will probably take a good, long while to convince all the purists out there. those that long for the days of old will probably never accept that money and the business of football are integral parts of the game today. and as much as i want to just say, “listen you old fogies, the world is changing… and you need to understand that,” i know i can’t.

why can’t i? well for one, it’s not wise to yell at old people; they will smack you. and two, those that fear the influence of money in the game have the perfect poster child to project their phobias upon: robinho.

and they’ve got a point. the diminutive brazilian is a glaring example of everything that is wrong with the modern game of football.

there is no doubting the guy is an unbelievable talent. he can do things with the ball that some of us can’t even dream of doing. and if he were capable of playing to his full potential, city would have been totally justified in smashing the british transfer record to sign him a year and a half ago. the problem is, robinho rarely ever utilizes his full potential.

when robinho first signed for madrid from santos back in 2005, i was stoked. i had heard all about him on the interwebz, and watched as many clips of him doing his magical step overs as i could find on youtube. and while he showed flashes of his brilliance for los blancos, he never seemed show any consistent effort on the pitch. fabio capello, who was madrid’s manager during the time, dropped robinho after publicly questioning his attitude.

when it was revealed that he was part of the club’s failed plans to bait manchester united into swapping (plus cash) for ronaldo, his subsequent transfer request was a given. obviously, i was upset to see such a rough talent go, but i thought robinho was well worth the sacrifice to land ronaldo.

now, i don’t blame him for wanting to leave at that point. i certainly would feel the same way. but it’s how he went about handling the situation that really started to grind my gears. instead of continuing to train and letting business take its course, robinho quit trianing with real and called a press conference saying he wanted to go to chelsea. it was “his dream” to play there. since he thought that a good bid came in from chelsea, he thought it was rubbish that madrid wouldn’t let him leave. last time i checked, the club is the one who decides that a deal is right for them, not the player.

when madrid did accept a bid, robinho climbed on a plane to head to england thinking he was heading to chelsea. when it was revealed they weren’t flying to london but to manchester instead, he thought it was united who had snatched him up. it wasn’t until he landed that he realized he was heading to city. the player’s face at his city unveiling hardly looked ecstatic throughout his introduction to the press. it looked like he was doing his best to put a smile on his face. i on the other hand, couldn’t stop laughing.

and though he made a quick start to life in england, scoring regularly in the early part of the 2008 season, things quickly went down hill for the samba star:

  • in early january of 2009 during the team’s training camp in spain, robinho decided he needed to make a trip home to brazil. problem was, he didn’t tell anyone at manchester city that he was going, nor did he have anyone’s permission to leave. not exactly professional. city had just failed at signing the brazilian’s international teammate kaká, and robinho’s return to brazil was seen as a protest to the club’s inability to bring in other high profile signings. the player claimed it was for a “family emergency,” though he was handed a hefty fine from the club upon his return.
  • the married player, whose fondness for the nightlife follows in the vein of many of his famous compatriots, was accused of sexual assault in late january, just a few weeks after his unscheduled trip to brazil. though he wasn’t charged, it certainly was interesting to see the young father’s desire to party finally catch up with him a bit.
  • following all of this unrest just six months after his arrival in england, the rumors began circulating that chelsea would be making a january offer for the player. however, this never came to fruition.
  • robinho was subsequently dropped by then manager mark hughes at the tail end of his first season. premier league teams had figured out how to make him innefective (see physical play). after scoring 12 times in the early part of the season, he only scored two more goals after january.
  • “injuries” seemed to plague the playmaker at the start of the 2009-2010 season. despite this fact, robinho had no problem training with brazil prior to their friendly with brazil in november. but once he returned to city, even though fit, hughes still didn’t see it worthwhile to use him.
  • not privy to just sit back and work his ass off to get back in the first team, robinho decided it would be better for him to publicly pine for a move to barcelona. yes, this came approximately 15 months after demanding to leave madrid. i had relationships in middle school that lasted longer than that.
  • having earned a start against tottenham, robinho was rightly subbed in the 59th minute due to being completely ineffective. he promptly stormed down the tunnel to the dressing room, and was said to have been showered and ready to leave by the time the final whistle blew.
  • after hughes was replaced by former inter coach roberto mancini, robinho continued to find himself on the bench. after coming off the bench as a substitute in their 0-2 loss to everton, he was rightly subbed himself with nearly 15 minutes left. again, he went right for the tunnel.

so when it was rumored that robinho was trying to engineer a move back to his original club santos, i wasn’t surprised one bit. why would barcelona want to disrupt their amazing team chemistry by bring a cancer into their dressing room? no self respecting club in europe would want to take the risk — let alone have to pay his wage bill — to face that kind of cocky, self serving attitude.

the boy was forced to run home with his tail between his legs, begging the last club that would be willing to take him back to let him salvage his world cup chances.

mancini saying, "you suck and you're about to get subbed."

what does this all add up to? robinho is what you would call a textbook definition of a primadonna. he knows that he is unbelievably talented, and people have probably been telling him that his whole life. and because he knows this, and people kept paying him enough, he feels he doesn’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else does. he thinks he is good enough to be world player of the year, pretty much implying he’s just as good as messi or ronaldo.

can someone please send this kid a wake up call?! you’re no ronaldo: you can do his stepovers, but you lack his drive. you’re no messi: you lack his skill and production. let’s be honest: robinho hasn’t done sh*t yet. he’s never even made the 20-man shortlist for the award.

so what has all of the money that’s poured in done to hurt the game? it is what has created robinho.

if he had been forced to earn his keep before providing him with massive pay days, through is moves to real and city, maybe we would have seen him develop into a potential world player of the year calibre player. instead, these pay days created a a self-entitled, spoiled, and egotistical brat of a footballer.

right now, old fogies everywhere are nodding in their heads with approval, biting their tongues from the i-told-you-so’s they want to scream at the top of their lungs.

and while i see their side, i’m not trying to end the massive increases of money in the game. like i said, the money is good for the game. let’s just make sure that it’s being applied appropriately. otherwise, we face the risk of having many of our promising young players become the next robinho.

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