MANCHESTER CITY manager Mark Hughes has called on Robinho to change the way he plays if he is to rediscover his scoring touch.
The club’s record buy has suffered a goal drought, last finding the target on December 28 against Blackburn.
Hughes believes the Brazilian’s dip in form is the result of the opposition knowing how to make him less effective. He is set to be recalled to the side for the second leg of the UEFA Cup quarter-final against Hamburg tonight at Eastlands.
More than ever, City need him to come up with goods as they are looking to overturn a 3-1 deficit – and are without injured Craig Bellamy.
Hughes said: “Robby can affect a game in a very positive way and technically he is a good as any player in the Premier League.
“Maybe teams have looked at him and worked out how to make him have less of an impact than he did in the first half of the season.
“Teams know he is an outstanding player and will try and stop him being effective. That is what has happened in some games. He will have to learn from that and deal with that.
“It has been a struggle for Robby as well as a number of players in the second half of the season.
“When you get him in the right area of the field, then he can produce for you. Our problem has been getting him in those areas on a regular basis.
“We are hoping he is saving his first goal of 2009 for (tonight). If he plays to his potential and his level of ability, then it could be more.”
Robinho has had to endure a lot of criticism recently but Hughes claims some of the comments have been out of order. The City boss feels the forward has found it tough playing more games than usual and that is why he was on the bench on Sunday for the 3-1 home defeat by Fulham.
Hughes said: “It was the right time to give him a rest. We haven’t really had the opportunity to take him out of the firing line. This year he has played a lot of games compared to the last two seasons.
“He has been criticised on certain occasions for his performances but those criticisms have not been at the right level. They have been a little bit unrealistic.
“On other occasions, among others, his performances have been poor and he has been rightly criticised.
“There will be a lot of focus on his play and his commitment to the team because his profile is high. That happens every single day and we understand that because of how he is.”
City are facing their 16th match in the competition and Hughes is quietly confident they can make the semi-finals.
He added: “It will be a big ask as we have a deficit to make up. We will have to be at the best level we can be.
“We are a team that can score goals at home and Hamburg have conceded some on their travels. I still feel there is a real opportunity for us tomorrow.
“Our home form has been excellent – we have won six of our last seven at Eastlands. It has been our shining light this season.”
Meanwhile, in the other three second leg ties, Marseille welcome Shakhtar Donetsk to the Stade Velodrome with the Ukrainians holding a 2-0 lead, Udinese host Werder Bremen at Stadio Friuli, where Bremen will defend a 3-1 advantage and Dynamo Kiev take on Paris St Germain having drawn 0-0 in France last week.
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