The world of football is a sadder place this morning. Bobby Robson was one of the good guys; a top manager, one of the last of the old school of players and management and one of those people that you just know you'd like if you ever met. What he achieved with Ipswich shows just how good he was as a Manager (and let's not forget he was an England footballer as a player too) and his star could even have shone a little brighter but he was cruelly rewarded in 1990 when England went out on penalties in the semi-final of the World Cup. That England side deserved better luck and Robson, in particular, was dealt a cruel hand, as he showed throughout that tournament not only his tactical acumen but also his ability to get the best from his players, in particular his man-management of the difficult Paul Gascoigne. In retrospect, it was probably only Bobby Robson who successfully handled the mercurial Gascoigne's talent and we can only guess what might have happened had Robson been able to harness his talent for longer.
Time can lend a strange hue to future events. Odd to think that when Bobby Robson resigned after the '90 competition the general feeling was that he had a good go at the national job and it was probably now time for someone to 'take us on'. In retrospect, of course, he went far too early and I have little doubt England would have won either the Word Cup or Euro's had he stayed.
Robson was treated absymally by the press in the early part of his England reign but remained composed and resourceful and eventually won both fans and press over, showing how difficult the job is and how it takes years to get it right. He showed just how good a Manager he was again when he took the reigns at Newcastle although, again, this time short sighted directors treated him abysmally.
Fortunately, Bobby Robson will be remembered fondly not only for his football work but also his charity contribution to the fight against cancer, Robson fought the disease bravely over an incredible 18 years and it was a fight that earned him the respect of people far removed from football. It's not often fans can unite over the loss of someone, club and country rivalry can sometimes blind people to the talent lost, but Sir Bobby Robson is a man who will be mourned today. However, in mourning we should not forget the pleasure he bought to millions.
RIP Sir Bobby
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