Matty Robson relishing chance to become Carlisle Utd attacking force
Last updated at 12:07, Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Matty Robson was never a reluctant defender but the instinct to gallop forward was always there. Now Carlisle United’s first goalscorer of 2012/13 has a new brief – to attack first, protect second – and he is not making much effort to hide his happiness.
The strong suspicion when talking to the 27-year-old is that his return to the left wing, as opposed to left-back, has put Robson back in his most instinctive role.
With freedom comes responsibility, the saying goes. But in as many words Robson suggested that parking him in the corner of United’s back four had put a certain restraint on the qualities he is now starting to show again, enjoyably.
“When you first start playing football, attacking is all you want to do, really,” he says, in the glow of a man-of-the-match performance in Carlisle’s Capital One Cup win against Accrington Stanley.
“Obviously over the past year-and-a-half I’ve had more defensive duties. I would love to have been attacking, but I thought I did ok at left-back.
“Now the gaffer wants to look at something different and it’s another challenge.”
That ‘something different’ is the signing of Alessio Bugno, a left-back by trade and the man whose summer arrival has allowed Greg Abbott, United’s manager, to free Robson from his moorings. One match is stupidly soon to be drawing conclusions but the former Hartlepool player has began the new campaign as impressively as many team-mates, and better than most.
With Andy Welsh a live contender for the left-sided attacking role, and other options remaining under Greg Abbott’s eye, it was not a straightforward march back into the position Robson first occupied, upon signing for the Blues in 2009.
But he has claimed the early ground, clearly. “I know I’m keeping a couple of people at bay and they’ll be chewing to get the start,” Robson says.
“I’ve got to keep the jersey. It’s the same right through the team. I think there is some terrific competition, and it can only bode well.”
Robson crowned this return to the offensive line with a cracking goal in Saturday’s 1-0 victory. If no place can be properly nailed down at this early stage then last weekend’s brightness ought at least to have earned him first go at Stevenage’s right-back this weekend.
In three days’ time Carlisle launch their latest bid for League One honours by walking into the arena where the dream started to fall apart last spring. Their exhausting 1-0 defeat in the Lamex Stadium galvanised Stevenage and winded the Blues, who were by then depleted and starting to wear the eye-bags of a hard season.
Ninety bright personal minutes in the cup on August 11 entitle Robson to skip south with hope that this opening league mission can end more happily. When the curtain goes up it will be telling to see which of two reorganised, reshaped teams adapts the quickest.
In United’s case that means continuing the knitting-together that began against Accrington, when Bugno, Mike Edwards and Brad Potts were debutants, Chris Chantler started a competitive game in midfield for the first time and Robson returned to his old habitat, in front of Greg Abbott’s young Italian capture.
“In fairness to Alessio, he has come in and been fantastic,” says Robson. “He has great energy and enthusiasm, and hopefully he can now adapt to League One football. I’m sure he’s up to the challenge.
“It’s nice having him there [at left-back] because you know he’s quite quick and can get good recovery behind him. He’s got bags of energy and it can only boost his career by keeping on playing.
“He can speak good English, but on the field it can be harder to get info across, about how we go about things. All the time we’re trying to talk to him and it will come. There have been times when we’ve linked up already and it’s been very good.
“It helps that I’ve played in both positions. I understand what people want to get out of them.”
Robson’s adaptability, which saved his United career a couple of seasons back when Abbott tried him out in the problem left-back position, might yet be relied upon again if 22-year-old Bugno’s introduction to League One throws up difficulties.
It is sensible management to account for this possibility, even if the hope and belief inside the manager’s office is that the trialist find from Monza will prove himself to be the real deal. Just now, though, it seems that the opening stretch of 2012/13 will see Bugno at the back and Robson carrying the fight downfield, for as long as form and fortune will allow.
Against Accrington the Blues as a whole did not often find fluency; excelling in spells but grinding rustily along in others. At Stevenage things must function more cleanly, Robson concedes, even accounting for the positivity a home win and a clean sheet naturally bring.
“We’d have taken that for the first day,” he says. “Maybe it wasn’t the finished performance by a long way but to get off to a winning start and keep a clean sheet was pleasing.
“We maybe didn’t reach the standards we had set ourselves in pre-season, when we played some terrific football, but that will come. We know we have to be a lot brighter and more accurate in the things we do, especially in our league fixtures. It’s a tough start against Stevenage. We know we’re not going to get chances if we make those mistakes, and we’ll get punished.”
This sound of standards being set is not the worst way to step into a new league campaign, and Robson is now able to speak with the authority of a senior man.
Only Peter Murphy, Danny Livesey and Paul Thirlwell have been on the premises longer. If those three are free to remind their team-mates of the times when things need to be better and sharper, then why not Robson, too?
“We had a few chances [against Accrington] when the ball has gone in the box, and I was a bit angered that there wasn’t anybody to get on them,” the winger says, fighting a frown. “The gaffer has told me to get past my man and then deliver or shoot. When there’s no one there, it’s a bit frustrating. But to get the goal was good and it has put me on the right foot for the next game.”
A year ago Stevenage were League Two’s play-off winners planning their ambush on many of League One’s leading lights. By the time the division had cottoned on to the threat from the men from Hertfordshire, they were in the top half and motoring.
Whether Gary Smith’s side are better or worse for their summer business (which included a loss of several players to Graham Westley’s Preston) remains to be discovered. One thing they definitely won’t get back is the surprise factor.
“This could prove to be one of the toughest games of the season,” Robson says. “From playing there last year, we know what they are like, physical and big, and we know we have to be at our best to get something out of the game.
“I believe we have enough to do that. In front of their own fans they’ll maybe be a bit nervous, so there’s no pressure on us as such, but we will put pressure on ourselves to perform well.”
First published at 11:31, Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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