Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rickety Robben

I had the chance to visit Stamford Bridge recently for a Chelsea home game and came away surprised at the hostility towards Arjan Robben from the faithful.

I recall hearing “get up you sissy”, “on your feet, lightweight”, and “put Wright-Phillips on”, that came from the home supporters, a sign that Arjan Robben has not endeared himself to the clubs supporters nor, it seems, his teammates. Mourinho remains diplomatic, ever careful not to alienate a player, but inside, he must be annoyed by it.

Robben, its true, falls like a house of cards at the slightest touch. He’s also as injury prone as they come. He’s a small guy, great feet, but that rickety frame is just not built for 90 minutes 70 times a year. In fact this season he has done 90 minutes only 2 times.

A host of managers around Europe would snap the Dutch international winger in a second. With his performance last season I can see why, but in contrast to the splash he made last October when he first played for Chelsea, it’s been nothing but an injury nightmare ala Jonathan Woodgate at Real Madrid (injured again, by the way).

Chelsea and Holland’s medical staff all seem at a loss to point to the cause of Robben’s persistent injuries. If it’s not a ham string, it’s a back, it it’s not his back, it’s his foot, and if it’s not the foot it’s the ankle. What gives here? Are we dealing with a player unwilling to play through niggles?

Yes and no. Some of his injuries have been serious, but others leave his teammates wondering what he is playing for. I wonder the same thing. I say this because from what I have seen this season, I see a fragile body, but more importantly a fragile mind.

I hate the militant type talk of ‘toughen up’ or you need a few hard lessons to toughen yourself up. That’s a world for the wannabe brave and phony tough, but in Robben’s case, I must admit, he seems to need to take the diaper off and get on with it.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a Chelsea supporter and I fully agree with your sentiments about Robben. Duff in comparison makes Robben look very ordinary.

12/08/2005 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bit of toughing up (in my opinion) did wonders for young Ronaldo - he was a totally different player at the Euros than he had been during the preceding season; that newfound toughness has made him much better for Man U. Robben, meanwhile, is still playing exactly the way he did in Portugal: whining, and falling over like a house of cards. And he's in a side that's far too strong to bother too much longer with him. Reality's got to hit sooner or later, right?


12/08/2005 3:56 PM  

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