The Sad End Of The Roberto Carlos Legend

"Always leave them wanting more", not "Leave; wanting more".  Oh Roberto, just stop will you.  Here's Domm Norris

Roberto Carlos' move to Russia was met with both delight and derision. For Anzhi Makhachkala fans, there was disbelief that their club could call on the talents of a World Cup winner - while others questioned the motivation of a 37-year-old who had invariably arrived in Makhachkala for one final pay cheque. But while the Brazilian's Russian adventure remains rooted in its infancy - are there signs that the signing could have a positive effect on Anzhi's fortunes this season?

Anzhi's opening matches of the Premier League season have been particularly disappointing for a club who have spent vast sums of money. But for all the money spent on exciting attacking talent, some startling issues are beginning to come to light - particularly the justification of placing Roberto Carlos immediately in the starting line up.

For those who avidly follow the progress of Brazilian football, the manner in which Roberto Carlos has declined from a thunder thighed rampaging full back to the portly, bewildered footballing equivalent of a pensioner, the scepticism towards the player's recent displays may not come as much of a surprise.  But to those of us who continue to nostalgically live in the late 1990's amid glorious memories of Real Madrid and World Cups, the painfully obvious truth that Roberto Carlos is not the player we remember so fondly brings about feelings of disdain and disappointment.

Anzhi's Premier League fixture against Luciano Spalletti's champions Zenit St Petersburg was an opportunity for the club to show themselves as being a new force in Russian football. The stage was set. A trip to the Petrovsky Stadium where 20,000 Zenit fans created a raucous atmosphere of expectancy was the setting for Anzhi to show that their new found wealth had offered a chance to compete. But despite periods of good possession, Anzhi struggled to carve any meaningful opportunities.

Roberto Carlos - at 37 years of age - is obviously no spring chicken, but he has decided to take it upon himself to instead become a headless one as he marauds across the bobbly, rugged and often fake surfaces of Russian football looking, frankly, like he couldn't give a shit. But let's face it - why should he? Anzhi's wily old coach Gadzhi Gadzhiev is quite blatantly acting under orders to play the Brazilian whenever he is available for selection regardless if it means his team are playing with the equivalent of 10 men. Roberto Carlos would be a redundant entity in any football club in Russia, hell, any club in Europe, but he has an obligation to feature regardless.

His literal approach to the 'free role' - which saw him at left back, wing back, anchoring the midfield and playing behind the forwards - leaves the Brazilian playing the fool while the rest of his team mates pick up the slack. Andrew Skomra's elegantly put description - 'have you ever seen those photos of spider webs after the spider was given LSD? Roberto Carlos's heat map' - perfectly sums up the Brazilian's impact on Anzhi's footballing philosophy. But don't imagine that the former Real Madrid man is acting as some sort of Roy of the Rovers style ‘captain fantastic’ figure, Roberto Carlos' idea of contribution is taking each and every throw in, each and every free kick and shooting at each and every opportunity - regardless of the goal standing some 40 yards away.

There can be no denying Carlos' input into the development of the modern attacking full back. Few can doubt that while at his peak he rightly sat among the greats of his position - but his spell in Russia threatens to be the downpour that puts an end to the legacy. But what does it matter to the player himself? He's won medals beyond the dreams of millions, played for teams that sit among histories finest and earned a fortune along the way.

So perhaps - despite the apparent destruction of his legend - Roberto Carlos is having the last laugh. He may not be a player of any particular quality anymore, and he may not be declining with grace, but it is he who is managing in the twilight of his career to pursue a journey that many would be too afraid to make.

Ultimately, the dying embers of Roberto Carlos' career should have already been extinguished, but Russian football offers the Brazilian an opportunity to enjoy one final bumper salary amidst the adulation of the people of Makhachkala.

To read more from Domm, visit his blog, Football Globe, and follow him on Twitter @footballglobe.

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