Bad boys from Brazil: Hughes at odds with City rebels Robinho and Elano

19 February 2009 03:33
Manchester City

manager Mark Hughes is facing a critical battle of wills with Robinho and Elano that will go a long way to determining if he succeeds at the Barclays Premier League club this season.

With City still struggling to produce consistent performances - especially away from home - Hughes is coming under fire from a minority of the club's supporters and knows he must find a way to get the best from his team between now and the end of May.

But Sportsmail

understands that his relationships with his Brazilian stars, the £34million Robinho and the temperamental Elano, are becoming increasingly difficult - a significant obstacle as he tries to impress City's owners in Abu Dhabi.



Double trouble: Rebel Brazilians Elano and Robinho have upset some quarters at Manchester City

Elano has long been viewed as a troublemaker by Hughes and sources close to the 27-year-old midfielder have stated recently that the player has no love for his manager.

Hughes' relationship with Robinho is better than that and he hopes he can coax some more consistent form from the club's record signing.

But Elano's influence on his countryman would appear to be growing and that is a much greater problem.

It is understood that one of Hughes' four January signings is so unimpressed with the Brazilian pair and their approach to life at City that he has suggested somebody should 'sort them out'.

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The same player also complained that the two South Americans have barely spoken a word to him since he arrived.

Evidence of Hughes' problem came last week when Robinho and Elano each scored for Brazil against Italy in London but then performed embarrassingly in City's defeat at Portsmouth four days later.

Problem solver: City boss Mark Hughes is aware that both Robinho and Elano need 'sorting out'

Hughes acknowledged the problem before leaving for tonight's UEFA Cup tie against FC Copenhagen in Denmark.

Asked if he had spoken to Robinho about his Portsmouth

performance, Hughes said: 'We have had a brief word and we have another opportunity now that we are away.

'We will speak in depth, not only to Robinho but everyone.

'I know he took a lot of criticism but other players should come into focus as well. He hasn't had a lot of Premier League football away from home. I think that's the key to it.

'The setbacks we're having will stand him in good stead because away from home you have to understand that it requires a different mentality.'

Style-free zone: Robinho arrives at the airport after getting dressed in the dark



Robinho has recovered from the thigh injury that forced him from the the field at Fratton Park and joined the City party on the plane to Denmark wearing white trainers with his club suit but no tie.

While the 25-year-old striker is not the first footballer to add his own interpretation to a formal dress code, it does perhaps provide an insight into Hughes' problem.

The manager, who has always based his success at club and international level on - among other things - organisation, discipline and professionalism, is struggling to instill these beliefs in some of his more high-profile players.

As City continue to struggle away from home, the basics of mental and physical durability continue to elude Hughes' team and there is little chance of this changing until his most important players throw their lot in with the boss.

Hughes and his players arrived here in sub-zero temperatures on Wednesday and the City manager had a frosty message for Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken.

Probable teamMANCHESTER CITY (4-2-3-1): Given; Richards, Dunne, Onuoha, Bridge; Kompany, Zabaleta; Wright-Phillips,Ireland, Robinho; Bellamy.

TV: BBC3 7pm. Kick-off 7.05pm.

The former Norway midfielder suggested that City's wealth was destroying football but Hughes said: 'We have had money for six months and we haven't destroyed football yet. It won't happen.

'But these people are not in possession of the full facts. He has had a lot to say hasn't he?'

When he was reminded that he once played against Solbakken for Wales,

Hughes said: 'I don't remember him. He can't have played very well.'

City captain Richard Dunne is expected to return tonight after suspension.

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Source: Daily_Mail