Robbo The Blobbo

August 23 2007

In all the brouhaha about Paul Robinson’s crippling loss of confidence/form/ability to catch/kick/understand the simple movement of the ball, one staringly obvious explanatory factor has been inconceivably overlooked. The problem is, the man’s too fat!

When Robinson shuffled meekly onto the scene as an acne-splattered, fresh-faced young goal-keeper at Leeds, he was – like most fresh-faced, acne-splattered young goal-keepers – lithe and lean. Since then, his weight has increased year on year to the extent that, in his shiny yellow new goalie kit, he now resembles a Weight Watchers convention struggling to get out of a New York taxi.

Consider Germany’s equalising goal in the friendly at Wembley. Yes, Robbo blundered, but it wasn’t his fault. He was moving as fast as he could. How else do you explain getting beaten by a 40-yard daisy-cutter from one-goal-for-every-three-hundred-and-seventy-harmless-five-yard-passes-sideways Ivan Campo? Certain saves are literally beyond Robinson’s reach purely because of his shape.

The piece of praise most often bestowed upon Robinson by pundits and commentators kind enough to overlook his chronic lack of basic handling skills is that he’s ‘a good shot-stopper’. That’s what you say about goal-keepers who manage to pull off the odd he-didn’t-know-much-about-that reflex save despite being completely incapable of commanding their penalty area.

But Robinson can command his area. As Rio Ferdinand observed astutely: “He is a big enough guy”. And that’s the problem. There really is a good goal-keeper in there. He’s just struggling to get out.

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