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Toronto’s anchorman
April 11, 2009, 9:21 AM
Filed under: Carl Robinson, Toronto FC

“In Carver we Trust” has proved a popular motto amongst Toronto FC fans since the Geordie coach took charge of the team last season, as the number of scarves emblazoned with the slogan proved at the home opener last weekend.

Of course, Carver himself is no stranger to faith — you need it to be a Newcastle United fan these days — but in a strange twist of fate, when he sends his first XI across the touchline to do battle every game, he places his into the hands of a man who once played for Sunderland, the Toon Army’s hated Northeast rivals.

In the holding role as Toronto’s midfield anchorman, Carl Robinson is the player Carver looks to dictate the flow of play, mop up at the back when required, and distribute the ball to Amado Guevara, Dwayne De Rosario and other, more offensive-minded teammates.

“He’s very important to what I want to do,” Carver said of the team’s two-time most valuable player. “I said at the start of the season I was looking to build my team around him.”

That Robinson has pulled on the red jersey of Wales for the last time will certainly help in his day job of marshalling the Toronto midfield. Following his final stint of international duty last week, an exhausted and jet-lagged Robinson was a shadow of his normal self in a 2-0 loss to Seattle, leaving Carver to remark afterwards, “I’ve never seen Carl give the ball away so much.”

In the modern game, getting and retaining possession is an important part of winning matches — Seattle seemed to be playing keepaway at times — and that in itself is almost a job description for the men who occupy the holding role.

Robinson is fully aware that “it may not be the most glamorous position,” but knows that it is “very important,” and in that respect he has modelled himself after some of the very best.

“From the modern generation, players like Claude Makelele and Patrick Vieira,” was his reply when asked who he based his game on.

Former Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane is fully appreciative of the importance of the holding role in a team’s hierarchy, believing it’s no coincidence that the Spanish giant’s run of European success earlier this decade ended once Makelele was allowed to leave in favour of more offensively gifted players.

“Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?” Zidane said at the time.

Reigning world champion Italy deployed not one, but three players in that holding role during its run to the World Cup in Germany three years ago, while Calgary’s Owen Hargreaves — when fit — occupies that position for the defending European and English Premier League champion Manchester United.

Similar to most of the aforementioned, Robinson will never be a regular contender in goal-of-the-month competitions, but he’s not a complete stranger to the opposition penalty area, and knows that everyone on the team has to be ready to chip in when the occasion arises.

“It’s not just about the strikers scoring goals, because they’re going to have off days, so sometimes you’ve got to rely on the midfielders and defenders to score goals as well,” said Robinson, who actually scored his first goal in Toronto FC colours against FC Dallas, Saturday’s opponents.

Carver has also promised more lineup tweaks this afternoon in an attempt to get back to winning ways, although he refused to get specific. However, Robinson knows the sooner the coach establishes a regular lineup, the better off the team will be.

“At the moment we’ve played three games and obviously we’ve chopped and changed for one reason or another,” he said. “As soon as we get into a lot more games and get a settled team, we’ll be fine.”

NOTES: Saturday’s visit by FC Dallas will be the first time Toronto FC defender Adrian Serioux gets to face his former club and in-form striker Kenny Cooper, who has two goals in three games so far this year, and tallied four against the Reds last season. “Just shut him down by any means necessary,” was Serioux’s solution for dealing with the threat posed by his erstwhile colleague. … Former Toronto FC striker Jeff Cunningham, who scored six goals in 32 games for the Reds, returns to BMO Field following last August’s trade to Dallas.

Source: Click Here

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