Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Proud Manager Who Had Deserved Better

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Proud Manager Who Had Deserved Better

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Sir Bobby Robson was the antithesis of the manager he replaced as Newcastle United boss. Chief Sports Writer Simon Rushworth fears an equally proud and passionate successor will prove elusive.

Five years ago Sir Bobby Robson, a smile as wide as the River Tyne etched across his face, strode into St James's Park with an air of ebullience and enthusiasm not seen on Tyneside since the heady days of Kevin Keegan's managerial reign.

Where Ruud Gullit had screamed indifference, Sir Bobby bellowed passion. Where Kenny Dalglish had ripped the black-and-white heart out of Newcastle United, Robson instilled pride in his disaffected Premiership charges.

Significantly, the former England manager who cheered Albert Stubbins and Len Shackleton from the Gallowgate terraces as a star-struck child, reassured supporters: "I've never lost my love and devotion for Newcastle."

Even yesterday, numbed and disbelieving at his County Durham home, Robson refused to deliver a damning appraisal of the club to whom he had dedicated the twilight years of a celebrated career only to be dealt a crushing personal blow.

The sense of injustice and the feeling of pain would have driven many less honourable men to attack those responsible for running St James's Park affairs. Not Sir Bobby.

Loyal to the end, Robson would never dream of further damaging the reputation of his beloved Newcastle and it is that genuine sense of duty which sets a truly remarkable manager apart from those mooted as possible successors.

When Freddie Shepherd appointed Gullit's successor in 1999, he appointed a coach uniquely aware of the expectation, tradition, intensity and fanaticism which makes managing the Magpies one of English football's most difficult jobs.

In sacking Robson five years later, United's chairman now finds himself searching for that most rare of commodities in modern football ( an individual driven as much by a sense of unswerving commitment to the wider cause as he is by personal gain and career advancement. …

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