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October 06, 2006

Rijkaard: "Ronaldinho is not a machine"

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The boss stands for Ronaldinho. Frank Rijkaard supports Ronaldinho Gaucho against critics that say he is not reproducing the kind of form that earned him the World Player of the Year title. "It is okay to criticise the team because they have shown they can do better but it is too much to only talk about Ronaldinho," the coach said to a local media.

"He is a fundamental player for us but he isn't a robot. Sometimes we forget he is just human, like us."

In fact, Ronaldinho failed to live up to expectations at the World Cup finals in Germany and has struggled to inspire the European and Spanish champions in their relatively sluggish start to the season.

We must mention that Barcelona are top of the Primera Liga but some laboured performances have raised questions about the form of the team and Ronaldinho in particular.

"What happened in the World Cup hasn't affected him. He had the right attitude but his team mates just didn't connect with him," Rijkaard expressed.

"However, it is another thing to talk about the pre-season. Because of contractual obligations he had to play every encounter and this catches up with you in the end.

"We have seen a drop in his performances but we aren't worried. We are managing it and he is doing what he can for the team which is the most important thing."

In a separate newspaper interview Ronaldinho, who has a history of slow starts, backed Rijkaard's assessment of his state of form.

"I start every season the same and the team have started similarly. I am getting into it with the team and we are developing together," Ronaldinho told El Periodico on Thursday.

"I am not a machine. My only objective is to help the team and when they need me I will be there."

The Catalan team face a tough October with high-profile clashes against UEFA Cup holders Sevilla, Real Madrid and two matches against Chelsea in the Champions League.

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