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Bobby Robson/More Than a Manager: the documentary

A strong case can be made for Bobby Robson being the most successful post-War British manager. He brought a decade of success to Ipswich, he oversaw England’s most successful World Cup campaign in 1990 since 1966 and he managed abroad achieving trophies at Porto, Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven. Sir Alex Ferguson by comparison did not have such success as an international manager and never managed abroad, nor did Brian Clough nor did  the great managers of the sixties and seventies – Bill Nicholson, Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Matt Busby.

Sadly I do not think this documentary does the man nor his career justice. It was not chronological and jumped all over the place.

There was little on his playing career at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion. Alan Tanner told me that he had heard from Jimmy Hill no less that Bobby Robson showed little interest in coaching when a teammate at Fulham, this only began when he played with Don Howe at WBA .

Jose Mourinho who started his football life as his interpreter and showed some aptitude in team scouting reports on the opposition come over as rather egotistical and cocky. Gazza did not quite seem with it. One would have appreciated an assessment from say John Motson.

There was quite a bit on his courageous fight against cancer. After being diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in 1995 it looked curtains but within 3 months he was back in the hot seat in one of the toughest managerial assignments at Barcelona following Johan Cruyff.

He brought in Ronaldo from PSV and had a talented side with Luis Henrique, Figo, Stoichkov and Guardiola. He had some success at another hot seat Newcastle where fans aspirations are high and board direction low.

He suffered dog’s abuse as England manager from the press who called him a “plonker”. It’s hard in the more benign reaction to Gareth Southgate to recall let alone justify such abuse but then it came with the territory as England had then a team worthy of challenging the best in 1990. This documentary set the record straight but I still felt unsatisfied at the end of it.

About Rex Mitchell

Rex Mitchell is a Brentford supporter from childhood. This has not prevented him having a distinguished Fleet Street career as a sports reporter and later deputy football editor. A widower, Rex is a bit of a bandit golfer off his official handicap of 20 and is currently chairman of his local bowls club. More Posts