Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Manchester Makes Some Big Signings

But which will be bigger? I guess that's the question.

The splash and slap across Europe's face would suggest that Brazilian Robinho is the much bigger signing; at least in part because he isn't going to Chelsea or even Manchester United, but Manchester City.

That is somewhat shocking.

But I'll argue that Dimitar Berbatov signing with Manchester United will prove to be the much more important signing.

I'm not arguing that Berbatov is inherently more talented than Robinho. That way insanity lies. Robinho is one of the most talented ball-at-his-feet players of the next half-decade. He attacks defenses with a ferocity and an elan that may be second only to Christiano Ronaldo. But Ronaldo is a much more imposing physical presence on the soccer field. And Robinho isn't as deft as Ronaldo, either.

Make no mistake, Robinho is sneaky with the soccer ball, and given the chance to dance, he'll dazzle Man City fans, opposite fans, and opponents, too. I'm not sure how much chance he'll be given to be sneaky. Ronaldo dives all over the place in international play; in the Premiership, he's learned to take hard tackles, and power through them. Robinho has never done that in his life. He reminds me, in attitude, to use a basketball metaphor, of a Danny Ainge or John Stockton. He's cheap on defense, and willing to use dirty tactics; however, when he gets the slightest touch, he acts as if that it wasn't just him who was viciously violated, but entire generations of his ancestors.

Plus, he's been stuck with Manchester City, which has been a bit of a garbage dump of failed Premiership Experiments over the past decade or so. Sure, they have new, exciting (read: scary) Arab ownership, but it is still Man City. If he does well, he won't be wearing Man City colors long. I have to assume the rest of the Premiership decided that they were willing to wait on this experiment, in part because they don't know that it will succeed.

In the meantime, with much less fanfare or international news, the Red Devils of Manchester United secured Dimitar Berbetov, who has already proven himself in the Premiership, and has the right skill set to succeed. Good in the air, tough in the penalty box, and not without talent at his feet. To me, Man City got the splashier signing; Man United got the guy who will put them at the top of the table (yet again) at the end of year. Giggs has another year of serving a quality finisher in the box.

Check in with That's On Point for a more reasoned take in the days to come.

in the meantime, here's a highlight reel of Robinho--you'll see the moves, the feints, the dodges, the speed. You'll wait 3 minutes to see a finish. After which, you'll see Berbatov, who is all about finishes. [Warning: These are YouTube Soccer Videos. Please expect to hear crappy techno.]

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