“I WONDER what Mark Hughes thought when he read the quotes from Robinho suggesting that some Manchester City players have a small-time mentality, and would be happy with finishing fifth or sixth,” pondered Tony Gubba at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
Baby steps, Tony. City haven’t finished fifth or sixth in the top flight since 1993. Even allowing for the fact that the Blues are now owned by a man so rich that he could afford to buy the Large Hadron Collider to use as his tumble dryer, finishing fifth or sixth this season would still be a triumph for the club.
Still, it was good to have Gubba back in the Last on MOTD slot – for the first time this season. I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to happen.
Last night’s final match: Fulham 1 Manchester City 1
Commentator: Tony Gubba
Actually, I can tell you what Hughes thought of Robinho’s comments, as he spoke about them at a press conference on Friday, which I attended.
I should probably tell you first, though, that what Robinho said was this: “City have good players but the mentality of a small side. They are content with just finishing fifth or sixth.
“They are content with little, thinking just a draw might be good enough.
“What they lack is the mentality of champions. I have learnt that being second is worthless so I want to inspire a winning mentality. You can only be content with winning.”
Hughes understood that Robinho was talking about the need to foster a winning mentality.
And the City manager’s response?
“I knew that was the gist of what Robinho was saying, and the players understand that as well,” Hughes said on Friday. “It was never an issue from my point of view.
“Obviously, there was a bit of mischief created. I said at the time it wasn’t something I was going to make a great issue of.
“If I felt there was an issue within the squad, I would have addressed it, but that’s not the case.”
So there you go, question answered. A more significant question, which remains unanswered, is what Robinho was listening to on his iPod as he sat in the stand at Craven Cottage yesterday. (He’s recovering from an ankle injury.)
According to the Brazilian’s official website, his favourite music is Pagode (a type of Brazilian samba music), which only goes to show that football has come a long way since the days when every single professional player in Britain seemed to like Phil Collins or Luther Vandross.
Robinho’s musical preferences appear to have received a rather lukewarm response in the City dressing room.
Shaun Wright-Phillips gave an interview last month in which he damned his new team-mate’s favourite tunes with faint praise, saying: “I like an eclectic selection of music, so I’m all right with him.”
Anyway, the winning mentality Robinho was calling for didn’t show itself at Craven Cottage. City, having scored first through Benjani, were lucky not to concede a penalty when Richard Dunne handballed, before Jimmy Bullard cracked in an equaliser.
All of this was watched by Fabio Capello who, astonishingly, with almost half the season gone, now leads the Gubbometer on Gubba difference.
How is it that the England coach spends so much time watching mediocre Premier League matches? Is it because this is where the top English talent lies?
If so, then it’s not just Manchester City who need to work on their mentality.
1. Capello: 4 (Gubba difference: +1)
2. Wigan: 4 (Capello difference: +2)
3. Middlesbrough: 4 (CD: +1)
4=. Blackburn: 4
4=. West Brom: 4
6. Fulham: 3 (GD: +1; CD: +1)
7. West Ham: 2 (CD: +2)
8=. Bolton: 2
8=. Newcastle: 2
8=. Stoke: 2
11=. Gubba: 1 (CD: +1)
11=. Manchester City: 1 (GD: +1; CD +1)
13. Portsmouth: 1 (CD: +1)
14=. Everton: 1
14=. Hull: 1
14=. Sunderland: 1
17=. Arsenal: 0
17=. Aston Villa: 0
17=. Chelsea: 0
17=. Liverpool: 0
17=. Manchester United: 0
17=. Tottenham: 0
(NB: Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference: the number of times a team is last on Match of the Day with Tony Gubba commentating. If they are still level, they will be separated by Capello difference: the number of times a team is last on MOTD with Fabio Capello present.)