Why did Robbo leave Pompey?
4th August 2015

I was absolutely stunned last Friday when I saw the news that Paul Robinson had left the club. There are always plenty of casualties within the playing squad when a team changes manager, but this announcement was a genuine shock, and the timing especially took me by surprise.

On July 5, Paul Cook named Robinson as club captain. On July 30, squad numbers were released, with Robinson switching from the 16 that he wore last season, to his preferred number 5.  On July 31, he had left the club.


I’m not suggesting the squad number announcement is the clearest indicator of his importance to the club, but something must have changed between the captaincy decision and the point we are at now, because I don’t know too many clubs who would pick a captain that they believe could become surplus to requirements a matter of weeks later.

I wrote a blog halfway through last season stating that Robinson should wear the armband based on the leadership qualities and the fantastic levels of professionalism he has shown throughout his career. But also, and I guess this is why I just cannot get my head around his departure, his ability on the field made him a certainty to start every game he was available for.

For me, he was the most obvious captain appointment since Sol Campbell was chosen in the summer of 2007. Had he been Andy Awford’s skipper, it would maybe indicate that Paul Cook wanted to clear the decks and start afresh. But to show the faith in Robinson himself, only to let him go a month later, is unusual.

We are also now painfully short of experience amongst our defenders. Indeed, Cook even alluded to that at the start of July when he justified his decision to make Robinson our leader. Cook said: “At the back you have the likes of Whatmough, Webster and Burgess, who are young lads. Can you get a better role model than Robbo? I don’t think you can.”

League Division One Play off  Semi Final 2nd leg, 10th May 2015. @Deepdale Preston  Photo: Steve Parkin Chesterfield's Boss Paul Cook, Who could be Named this week as the New Portsmouth Boss

Less than 24 hours after his departure had been announced on the official club website, Robinson turned out and scored for AFC Wimbledon in the Dons’ friendly victory over Cheltenham, so that would suggest he’d had the move lined up.

So why has he moved on? Many people would look at AFC Wimbledon and hope that they won’t be competing for automatic promotion, which is what everyone within Fratton Park has targeted. I also don’t buy the argument that he has been forced to join Wimbledon in order to get the regular football that he wouldn’t be guaranteed with us.

The almost unanimous response to the announcement on Friday was one of total bewilderment, which is normally the case for outgoing players who have been deemed ‘surplus to requirements’. I also believe that if Robinson was actually informed of that thinking, he would want to stay, fight for his place and prove to Cook that he is worthy of a regular spot.

Maybe the decision is down to finances. Robinson was reportedly one of the biggest earners, but with age not on his side, perhaps the club made the decision to prioritise younger defenders. Again, that seems like a slightly odd move, given that we are now in desperate need of a more experienced defender to lead the likes of Webster, Burgess, Matt Clarke and Whatmaugh when he returns. The defence is probably the last area of your team you’d prefer youth over experience, so to get rid of a hugely experienced Football League campaigner doesn’t make sense.

Maybe Robinson was not prepared to comply with Paul Cook’s requirement for all his players to live within a certain distance of the club. Earlier in the summer, Cook revealed he’d missed out on signings because he would not relax this policy, and added: “If they don’t live locally then they don’t sign, it’s as simple as that. And if you do know anyone that is travelling let me know and we will get rid of them!” Whilst the second line about getting rid of existing players may have been a little exaggerated, perhaps there has been a disagreement between player and club.

Whatever the full reasoning behind Robinson leaving the club, I am disappointed. He was a great on-field leader and I feel we are weaker without his presence around the club, the same presence Cook was delighted to have influencing his young defenders only a month ago. I wish Robbo all the best (except in the two games against us) because I see him as a fantastic pro and unfortunately they are not too common in football today. I don’t expect to hear any more from either player or club, but I think it’s fair to say that this has raised more questions than answers.

Author: james

Share This Post On


  1. Well, it is my thinking that it is all to do with where he lived, he is coming to the end of his professional career and probably settled where he is at present and didn’t want to move to the south coast. Otherwise why move to Wimbledon?.

    Post a Reply
  2. Jeez. Its done so better get over it. Robinson was ok in a very poor team last year. I would be happy with getting rid of all the failures from the last 2 seasons and it looks like Cook feels the same so back him 100% to make the choices for the club.
    If you had been at the training day today you would have seen pass and move all over the pitch with the centre backs coming out fast and supporting the attack, maybe just maybe Robinson couldn`t fir into that system, add to that his apparent reluctance to relocate down to Portsmouth area then I say thanks and move on.

    Post a Reply
  3. In this ‘era of transparency’ why don’t you expect to hear any more from the club? As you say, we fans are bewildered, so at least they could give us a simple explanation. Who are the owners of this club and why can’t they tell us?

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *