LIVERPOOL, England, Jan 17, 2010 (AFP) - Roberto Mancini is adamant Robinho still has a future at Manchester City despite hauling off the Brazil star soon after sending him on as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat at Everton.
Mancini has only started Robinho once in his five matches since replacing Mark Hughes as City manager and is clearly struggling to find a way to motivate the under-performing former Real Madrid forward.
|Roberto Mancini reacts during the English Premier League football match against Blackburn Rovers at The City of Manchester stadium, Manchester on January 11, 2010. AFP PHOTO|
Robinho, who cost City a club record 32 million pounds, was at his lacklustre worst after coming on as a first half replacement for Roque Santa Cruz at Goodison Park on Saturday and Mancini showed his disgust by taking him off soon after the interval.
Mancini's hardline stance failed to spark City into life and they lost for the first time under the former Inter Milan coach, dropping out of the Premier League's top four in the process.
But Mancini won't write off Robinho for good and insisted the attacking options at his disposal mean he would always be willing to rotate the team at the expense of even his biggest stars.
"I had (Craig) Bellamy, Benjani (Mwaruwari), (Carlos) Tevez, Robinho - all strikers - so I decided to take one off," Mancini said. "I needed a different kind of player.
"Is it the end of the line for Robinho? No. He is a good player. Like everyone in the squad he needs to work hard and play well."
First half goals from South African midfielder Steven Pienaar and French striker Louis Saha, who converted a penalty, gave Everton a deserved victory and dented City's hopes of clinching a Champions League place.
Mancini admits City need time to adapt to his tactics but he may make a move in the transfer market before the window shuts on February 1.
"I am not a magician. I am a manager and I do not think I can change the situation in a month," he said. "But I believe we can improve game after game. That is possible. It is a long season."
Pienaar made the breakthrough in the 36th minute with a free-kick from 20 yards that evaded Shay Given at the goalkeeper's near post.
Everton stepped up the pace and Saha extended their lead in first-half stoppage time with his 13th goal of a productive season.
He coolly slotted home a penalty after having his shirt tugged outside and inside the box by Micah Richards.
Everton manager David Moyes could not hide his delight at securing the three points after accusing City in his programme notes of "breaking the rules" and having "no class" in their pursuit of Joleon Lescott.
The England defender moved to Eastlands in August following a protracted transfer but sat out the match because of a knee injury.
Moyes said: "I think you enjoy wins when you feel you have not been treated right. I will do that but it has all gone now and I will try and move on.
"I think this performance has been coming. It is getting back to the standard we want to see.
"We have started getting one or two players back. There is a bit more confidence now and a bit of competition for places."