Mark Hughes is weighing up whether he should leave out Robinho from Manchester City's game at Arsenal on Saturday. The City manager is sufficiently concerned about Robinho's form and attitude that he has raised the matter with the club's owners in Abu Dhabi and has been promised their backing whatever he decides to do with his most expensive player.
Hughes is now toying with the idea of tinkering with his usual 4-2-3-1 formation to implement a new 4-3-3 system that would see Stephen Ireland take the Brazilian's usual place on the left side of attack. Shaun Wright-Phillips would play on the right although Hughes's plans have been undermined by Craig Bellamy, the spearhead of his forward line, suffering a knee injury and being ruled out of Wales's game against Germany tonight. Bellamy is heading back to Manchester to be assessed by the club's medical staff.
A final decision will not be taken until Friday when Robinho and Elano return from Brazil's World Cup qualifier against Peru in Porto Alegre and Hughes can assess any injury news before his squad travel to London for their overnight stop. Hughes is aware that dropping Robinho would be a controversial move and could possibly damage his already fragile relationship with the club's £32.5m signing. However, he and his coaching staff have been discussing for some time whether Robinho deserves to keep his placeconsidering his poor away form throughout most of the season. Their conclusion was that he did not. Robinho, indeed, would have been dropped before now had Martin Petrov, the club's left-winger, not been injured.
I don't usually post so much of an excerpt but there is plenty in this one that I thought worthwhile. The question of Robihno's place in the side is not a new discussion, and has been a hot topic in recent times - both with fans and the media alike.
There is no doubting Robinho has struggled of late - not scoring in 2009 - and his displays away from Eastlands have been patchy at best. However, is Robinho not suffering partly because of his high profile and standing? As our away form has progressed from the disappointing to the awful, Robinho has found himself the fall guy, yet our struggles away from home are surely not the sole result of his lack of form but a collective struggle from the side as a whole. Still, the focus will always inevitably be on him to a far greater degree than any other member of the side.
A decision to drop him is not inconceivable though, and as Jack demonstrated we do have options both in terms of personnel and formation to field a side without him (especially with the imminent return of Martin Petrov). It would be a shame however, as you would really would be sacrificing a wonderful talent, a difference maker and one who is capable of winning games by himself. You also think playing away at Arsenal would be the type of game where he would be likely to excel in.
Now the international break is over, it is watch this space I guess.