Robinho settles into supporting forward role at AC Milan
MILAN - Reuters
Brazilian forward Robinho shined against Arsenal, scoring two goals during AC Milan’s flashy 4-0 victory. REUTERS photoRobinho, widely considered an expensive failure when he left Manchester City 18 months ago, has successfully relaunched his career at AC Milan where he appears happy to accept a supporting role.
The Brazilian, whose two goals helped AC Milan to a 4-0 drubbing of Arsenal in a Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday, has not ended up on the scrapheap as he might have feared when he fell out of favor at City and returned to Brazil to play on loan for Santos.
He need only look at compatriot Adriano, once the so-called “Emperor” whose career has been in freefall since the 2006 World Cup and is now a bit-part player at Corinthians, to see what might have happened. “I’m happy for Robinho,” said Milan strike partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who set up both his goals. “The important thing is that he continues playing and scoring.
“Now the coach has more options on the pitch. When you have a few negative results, you get the right kind of anger needed to do better.”
Ibrahimovic is very much the main man at Milan while Robinho, 28 and a veteran of two World Cups, has found himself competing with fellow Brazilian Alexandre Pato for the right to partner the volatile Swede in attack.
In the past, that situation might have provoked tantrums but coach Massimiliano Allegri has convinced Robinho to accept his lot.
It is a turnaround for a player who was likened to Pele when he burst onto the scene with Santos as an 18-year-old and was quickly dubbed “the King of the Stepovers”.
Robinho scored 14 goals last season, his first with Milan as the team won the scudetto, but this term has been more of a struggle and at one stage there was a period where the ball would not go in as he repeatedly missed gilt-edged chances.
However, Allegri stood by him, praising him for creating other chances for his team mates.
Nevertheless, there remains a feeling that Robinho has never quite fulfilled the huge expectations created around him.
His problems started when he left Santos in acrimonious circumstances in 2005 to join Real Madrid. Instead of being the biggest fish in the pond, he suddenly had to fight for his place in the team.
Although he scored goals, there were injury setbacks and a spell out of the team under Fabio Capello.
He left after three seasons and became one of England’s most expensive signings at Manchester City.
Again, his commitment was often questioned and he never came close to living up to the hype.
At Milan, he has finally found a place to call home.