The Birmingham veteran’s key role under Gianfranco Zola
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.
“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.”
LET’S BE HEARING YOU: Paul Robinson inspires fans and players alike. Inset, receving his red card – later rescinded – against Wolves LEADER: Gianfranco Zola