Date: 16th September 2010 at 6:31am
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Are Paul Robinson’s Days Numbered? Surely Yes?

Morning all. Somewhere along the line today there will be some sort of news wandering in, probably about the Villa game, as other people who don`t shout at callers on football phone ins and are actually in gainful employment with the football clubs that they are talking about give us a view about Saturday`s game. But I won`t be there to see it as I`ll be in bed, sleeping away another twelve hours on a night shift where people just generally shout at me. In fact, I`m sure that one of them sounds like Stan Collymore. However, I know you want something to read, even though I said that I`d drawn a line under the whole Arsenal game, I`ve opened it a chink to have a go at our current left back.

There is a line in the mediocre film “The January Man” where Rod Steiger, as the police commissioner, says of Kevin Kline`s “maverick” cop ‘What shall we do about the terrifying spectacle of Nick Starkey. What he may do, what he may not do.” Twenty one years later the same could be said of Paul Robinson. He is a terrifying spectacle and there are times that even he seems not to know what he is doing, never mind us.

The transfer of Robinson from West Brom in summer 2009 was not a popular one. He had spent a lot of times boinging between the Premier League and The Championship but no one had ever really commented that he was worth another shot at the big time. No one besides Gary Megson that is. Megson had taken Robinson from Watford to West Brom in 2003 and together they took West Brom back into the Premier League. I say together, there were other players in the team, but there is something about Robinson that sums up Megson. I think the two words are “knuckle” and “headed”. Once Megson managed to get his team into the Premier League, he fell out with his chairman, got the heave ho and, in the ultimate insult, was replaced by Bryan Robson. The shame.

Robinson himself went down with West Brom. (And Up. And Down.) He made it into the 2007-08 Championship side but that team included Danny Shittu, telling you all you need to know. Along the way he picked up yellow cards and red cards aplenty. So when Megson came to the opinion that Jlloyd Samuel wasn`t up to the job, who did he call? His enforcer. It was originally on a loan deal, for tax reasons. Robinson himself quickly “reassured” Bolton fans that this wouldn`t stop him from signing permanently at the end of the year. This wasn`t the reassurance that we wanted. He lied anyway as he was signed permanently just after the change in manager, which shocked those that thought we could get out of signing him permanently. But the decision was made.

There were other options. Ricardo Gardner had done the job in the latter Sam Allardyce years and even though he wasn`t, and still isn`t, a natural left back, he filled in the hole left by the departed Simon Charlton when called upon. Gardner has a natural attacking intent, even if his final ball has never been the best, so it is understandable that a defensive minded manager like Megson wouldn`t look to him. Bolton fans, even the ones who bemoan Gardner for his lack of goals and his inability to play the ball across the box, have a lot of time for Gardner, which is probably another reason why the amount of games that he played reduced under the ginger one. That and his ability to get himself injured.

Matty Taylor was another one who could be called upon in a time of need to fill in the left hand defensive side, but as he was the player required to swing in the killer crosses that Gardner so lacked, his job was further up front. Besides, Megson knew Robinson and knew how he played. So, when the call came, Robinson jumped at the chance.

As did the West Brom faithful. Yes, they said, he has been a good servant for us but we like to play expansive football now under our managers, he just doesn`t fit the bill. We also need to get him off the wages as we`ve just been relegated. So they bundled him in a taxi and paid for the fare north. Their message boards at the time were full of glad tidings including

“‘I am happy but sad for Bolton. Their left back must be pretty poor if Robinson displaces him. Amazes me that he thinks he is good enough. He became a liability for us over the last 3 seasons and last season cost us more than any other player. Don`t suspect Bolton fans are too happy. Our gain is their loss.”

He`s had his good moments, there is no denying. But these have been limited to getting Craig Bellamy sent off when the Welsh captain was adjudged to have dived in December 2009 when, in fact, Robinson had clipped him and also taking Jack Wilshere under his wing during the Arsenal man`s loan spell at The Reebok. After Saturday, however, this could now be seen as a case of keep your friends close etc? However, the bad far outweighs the good. He is continually skinned by wingers on the right hand side, and when he isn`t he leaves legs invitingly dangling so people like Adam Johnson can fall over them in penalty areas. His yellow card rate of seven in twenty seven last season was the highest ratio of any regular first team player at The Reebok This outstripped SuperKev`s, although the Bolton captain is currently trying hard to outdo him this season.

He also did the club no favours with his tackle on Diaby on Saturday, whatever your view of kicking Arsenal players in the air. Yes, Diaby has done similar to Bolton players, which gets conveniently forgotten every time we play Arsenal. But a lot of boards commented before the game that this Bolton side were different and could and would play the ball along the ground. Robinson`s kick, when it was easier to play the ball, along with Karl Henry`s on Zamora, has been highlighted and immediately jumped on by the press who have now forgotten the way we played against Fulham and West Ham.

When the Arsenal game has long died in the memory and Davies`s leap into Koscielny is put down to what it actually was, an honest attempt for the ball, the image of Robinson`s foot half way up Diaby`s leg will remain, alongside Shawcross`s on Ramsey and Taylor`s on Eduardo. It is the image of a seriously out of his depth player in a Bolton shirt kicking another player.

His tackle could also have left us with nine men and on the end of a more severe spanking than 4-1. A player that no one wanted has now become a liability. So what to do with the problem left back role?

As a short term solution I would advocate the return of Ricardo Gardner. The manager espouses playing the ball along the floor and using skillful players. No matter what your opinion of Gardner`s crossing, if there is anyone who can beat a man, take him on, express yourself it`s one on one in the Bolton side, it is him. Of course, the downside to this is that there is the possibility that we will be left with both Gardner and Petrov stranded upfield but life`s all about risks.

In the long term there is Marcos Alonso, ostensibly brought in to replace Robinson but who is still too green to be thrust into the first team. Jlloyd Samuel is out, regardless of the fact that he is in the twenty four man squad. He has never quite fit into the Bolton team and is tarred with the brush of being signed by Sammy Lee. His once chance of claiming his place back from Robinson ended when he scored for Stretford in March plus the club seemed like they were farming him out to everyone during the close season, but there were no takers.

Bolton are not going to move away from what people think of us until Robinson is removed from the scene and the manager has to act quickly for until he does the left hand side of defence is a breach in the defensive wall that other teams will take advantage of.


5 Replies to “How Do We Solve A Problem Like The Left Back?”

  • I always liked Jlloyed, and Robinson’s been doing alright, but we could do with a replacement, Gardners not played in ages so he could, Taylor’s currenty out of the side so he woul he a good choice, we could give Alonso a chance though.

  • I never had a problem with J Lloyd but seems he ain’t very popular with the management. So failing that I’d probably play Ricketts. Also, was J Lloyd not signed on a pre-contract by Allardyce?

  • Is Gardener injured (living in Spain I don’t get all the info) he could fill the left back position, he always gives his all to the side wherever he plays.

  • Spanish, I don’t think Gardner has been injured. He played in the Carling Cup at Southampton. I know that he didn’t train this week though.

    Carted, Jlloyd was Sammy Lee’s first signing. He signed a pre contract just after the end of the 06-07 season.

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