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Jo: City's Brazilian survivor

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03 Sep 2010 08:50:14

| Submit Comments| Comments (56)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapLAST MAN STANDING: Jo's countrymen Elano, Glauber Berti and Robinho have leftRoberto Mancini knew all about Jo long before settling into the Manchester City manager?s chair last December. But it was still a major surprise when he brought the Brazilian striker in from the cold and into his 25-man Premier League squad. Jo had not played for City for 18 months when he appeared in the first match of their United States pre-season tour, scoring in a 3-0 win over Portland Timbers. And even when he followed that up with goals against New York Red Bulls and Borussia Dortmund, it still looked likely that he would be on his way. But while Robinho, Craig Bellamy and Stephen Ireland headed for the Eastlands exit, Jo has made the cut and featured in four of City?s first five competitive games of the season. And with penalty king Elano and eternal unused substitute Glauber Berti having departed 12 months ago, Robinho?s move to AC Milan on Tuesday has left Jo ? against all odds ? as the last Brazilian standing at Eastlands. It represents a remarkable turnaround for a striker who was not even handed a City squad number last season, which he spent on loan at Everton and Galatasaray. Ask Mancini why he has hung on to the 23-year-old, and he will make reference to his physical strength and speed, and his useful left foot. He will also point to a couple of Champions League encounters with Jo during his final season in charge at Inter Milan. In the late autumn of 2007, Mancini?s Inter faced CSKA Moscow in the group stages. The Italians won 2-1 in Russia and 4-2 at the San Siro, but in both games had to come from behind after Jo had given CSKA the lead. Both goals were well taken. In Moscow, he beat Inter defender Ivan Cordoba before lobbing the ball over keeper Julio Cesar. But his strike in the San Siro was even better, as he played a one-two with Vagner Love before smashing an unstoppable effort into the corner. It was enough to show City?s future manager just what an awkward customer Jo could be. And after returning from Galatasaray, he did enough to convince Mancini he should be a part of the Blues? final 25. Mancini view Mancini said: ?I have seen Jo in these two months and I think he is a good player. He has a chance. I saw him when he played for CSKA Moscow. I played against him with Inter and he?s a good striker.? That description may still bemuse City fans who saw him struggle after arriving from CSKA for £19m in July 2008 ? a fee that made him the club?s record signing for six weeks before Robinho arrived. The striker had been identified by Mancini?s friend Sven-Goran Eriksson towards the end of his tenure as City boss. A strike rate of 44 goals in 77 games during his three years in Russia appeared to represent good value, and Mark Hughes was sufficiently convinced to rubber-stamp the deal on taking over at Eastlands. But a nervousness in front of goal saw him score three times in his first 18 games for City. And his indiscipline off the field angered Hughes, who fined him for going out clubbing after missing training due to illness. At Everton, he enraged manager David Moyes by refusing to return from Brazil after a Christmas break, and ended up spending the second half of last season in Turkey, where he also reportedly attracted negative publicity for partying. Mancini, though, has indicated he will give the striker a chance to shine in the Europa League this season, along with the odd cameo appearance in the Premier League. The City boss is hoping that the beanpole forward will make the most of that opportunity by recapturing some of his old CSKA form. Given the problems he caused Italian defences when Mancini was at Inter, Jo may yet have a surprise or two up his sleeve for Juventus when they come to Eastlands at the end of this month. If he does, no one would be more delighted than City?s manager. Do you think Jo will come good at City? Have your say.


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