PAUL ROBIN­SON

The Birm­ing­ham vet­eran’s key role un­der Gian­franco Zola

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Ross Law­son

NEG­A­TIVE press, man­age­rial spec­u­la­tion and a team bat­tling for con­fi­dence. Paul Robin­son has cer­tainly had his work cut out for him as Birm­ing­ham City club cap­tain this sea­son.

But, with last week’s mo­rale-boost­ing first away win un­der Gian­franco Zola still fresh in the mind, the vet­eran de­fender be­lieves a pe­riod of pos­i­tive tran­si­tion is fi­nally be­gin­ning.

Vic­tory at Wolves was a first win away from St An­drew’s since beat­ing Brentford in Novem­ber. It also quashed the dis­ap­point­ment of a hum­bling at the hands of QPR the pre­vi­ous week.

But, rather than be trans­fixed on a roller­coaster ride, Robin­son is hope­ful of some sta­bil­ity both on and off the pitch.

And, with 21 years of pro­fes­sional foot­ball un­der his belt, the 750game mile­stone reached and his boots set to be dusted off for yet an­other sea­son, there doesn’t seem to be any­thing left to faze Robin­son. He’s con­tent to let his foot­ball con­tinue to do the talk­ing.

“It was a mas­sive win for us. There was some re­lief in the camp and the lads went out there and per­formed to a high stan­dard in a lo­cal derby,” said the full-back, who was at­tend­ing a Kit for Kids ac­tiv­ity run by Wickes, Of­fi­cial Part­ner of the EFL.

“It’s very im­por­tant that we get through this tran­si­tional pe­riod now. We’ve had a lot of neg­a­tive press about the man­ager and re­sults and we know it’s go­ing to take time.

“The man­ager is bed­ding into the group about what he wants to bring and his style of foot­ball, but the lads and the staff have been bril­liant.

“We’ve worked ex­tra hard on the train­ing pitch to put things right and that’s all you can ask for. A first away win is a big mile­stone.

“But now we have to go into ev­ery game with the same de­sire and com­mit­ment.”

Such has been Robin­son’s in­flu­ence off the park that the club skip­per has, at times, been re­lied upon more from the side­lines than in the thick of the ac­tion. His in­volve­ment in the Mo­lineux vic­tory was just a 17th game in all com­pe­ti­tions for the 38-year-old, though his side had to hold on with­out him for al­most 40 min­utes af­ter a red card for a chal­lenge on Wolves striker Jon Dadi Bod­vars­son, which was sub­se­quently over­turned.

Yet, de­spite dis­ap­point­ment from some quar­ters in Gary Rowett no longer be­ing at the helm, Robin­son in­sists he is more than happy to lead the charge for Zola.

He added: “The man­ager sees me as a very im­por­tant player in the dress­ing room, I like that tenac­ity and I try to bring the team to­gether, go­ing out there with 11 lads who want to win a foot­ball game.

“It’s im­por­tant for me to get that point across, to get every­one fo­cused, and the man­ager can play the role of what he sees in us as a team.

Op­tions

“I’m a good link be­tween that. I’ve played un­der count­less dif­fer­ent man­agers and styles, a lot of them with the at­tack­ing style of foot­ball we’re look­ing to play.

“But it’s not just me. It’s a group of 24 play­ers with that un­der­stand­ing about what the man­ager wants you to do on a game-day and be­ing bet­ter at that.”

De­spite protes­ta­tions that his own ca­reer is not yet over, Robin­son also har­bours man­age­rial op­tions when the time is right.

“I love ev­ery minute of foot­ball and I have done since I started at 17,” he said.

“When you get those high mo­ments on the pitch you try to en­joy them as much as you can.

“I know I’m com­ing to the later stages, but I know now is about de­vel­op­ing my skills as a man­ager and my main aim is to help the younger play­ers in the squad.

“I’ve a lot to pass on: the highs and lows, to see how they’re de­vel­op­ing and how they’re do­ing in the academy, just as I did un­der Gra­ham Tay­lor (at Wat­ford) all those years ago.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

LET’S BE HEAR­ING YOU: Paul Robin­son in­spires fans and play­ers alike. In­set, re­cev­ing his red card – later re­scinded – against Wolves LEADER: Gian­franco Zola

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