Alan Hansen: Carling Cup derby presents real dilemma for under-performing United

Sir Alex Ferguson definitely made a mistake by letting Carlos Tévez leave Manchester United last summer.

But the same will not be said of Roberto Mancini if he manages to get rid of Robinho.

The contrast between the two players is vast, but while Mancini would be well advised to try to offload Robinho before the transfer window closes, his decision to substitute the Brazilian just 51 minutes after putting him on against Everton has merely made it more difficult to sell him.

It was a show of strength by Mancini, a move which will have hammered out the message 'big name, so what?’ to everybody at Manchester City, but it served only to magnify Robinho’s flaws.

At £32.5 million, Robinho has unquestionably been a bad buy. He is a super-deluxe luxury player with all the talent in the world but, when the going gets tough, he just doesn’t want to know.

He was the wrong side of woeful at Tottenham last month and he was just as bad against Everton. The Premier League is the toughest league in the world and opponents will always get stuck in and, quite simply, Robinho can’t hack it.

His performances have been unacceptable, both to his team-mates and his manager. They will have caused strife within the dressing-room because he is City’s highest-paid player, somebody who is earning an absolute fortune, and he just isn’t delivering.

I would sell him as quickly as I could, but City won’t get anywhere near what they paid for him and I don’t see any club out there, certainly not in England, who would want to take him.

Being substituted as a substitute is as bad as it gets, but it could easily have happened to Robinho before now.

Tévez is the polar opposite, though. He does not have Robinho’s ability by any means, but whether you put him on at the start or with 10 minutes to go, he will never give less than 100 per cent.

His recent performances have been terrific and, considering that and Manchester United’s form without him, you have to say that Ferguson was wrong to let him go.

When he writes his memoirs once he has left Old Trafford, if Ferguson is asked whether he was happy to lose Tévez, I think it is certain he will admit that he wanted to keep him.

But when you hear about United’s proposed bond issue and the financial problems facing the club, then maybe the money required to sign Tévez was just too much.

The fact that United invested just over £2 million in total on Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf to fill the gap left by Tévez says it all.

Sir Alex hasn’t even looked at players in this transfer window because he has nothing to spend, but he needs reinforcements more than ever because it’s not as though United are 10 points clear of the pack and cruising.

Every other top team in the Premier League has played well this season.

Arsenal, Chelsea, City, Spurs and Aston Villa have all impressed at times, but United have been poor all through, yet they are second in the league. The one thing they have in their favour is that, while they have been bad at times, they have never been quite so bad as City have been at Spurs and Everton.

It is still impossible to call Tuessday’s Carling Cup semi-final between City and United, though. City need a response following the Everton defeat, while United must perform better than they did against Burnley. They may have won, but they were awful again.

There is no doubt that City will be sensing a real opportunity to swing the balance of power in Manchester in their direction. They have the finances to strengthen and improve, while United need to strengthen but don’t have the money.

Sir Alex will know that United will end up with nothing this season if they continue to perform so poorly and that’s why he has a dilemma going into the City game.

Does he go with the kids or does he field his best team to try to spark a return to their best form? Whichever way he goes, there is no guarantee that it will be the right solution.

No comments: