Anorak News | The Mask Slips

The Mask Slips

by | 22nd, August 2002

‘WE HAVE long suspected that behind his loveable avuncular facade, Sir Bobby Robson is a seething mass of bitterness and resentment. When he appeared on a recent documentary about Sir Alf Ramsey, he spoke with feeling of the shameful way that England’s most successful manager died in an NHS ward after years of living in straitened circumstances, seemingly forgotten by his former employers at the FA, and by the football world in general. It is possible that Sir Bobby still feels the pain of wounds inflicted upon him during his own reign as England boss.

”Glad to hear that Bobby’s doing the same”

In particular, it must be strange to be feted by the very same newspaper hacks that conducted a merciless campaign against him during his World Cups and European campaigns. Now he has used his column in the Newcastle United programme to air his views on the performance of England under the current boss, Sven Goran Eriksson – who just happened to be in attendance at St James’s park, and will no doubt have perused his complimentary copy while the assembled Geordie nation sang its unintelligible songs about the Auld Gallogeet, the Bleed’n Reeces and the Fog on the Teen.

And he may not have been too happy about what he read. ”I must say I did fancy us to beat Brazil,” says Sir Bobby, speaking of England’s meek submission in Japan. ”When England went one up we were on the verge of glory. But then we were awful in the second half. We’d conceded the equaliser right on half-time and then we went behind following David Seaman’s error. From the moment we went into deficit we never had a shot at goal and never looked like creating a chance.

When Ronaldinho was sent off we should have been able make the numerical advantage count yet we couldn’t and didn’t. We simply didn’t know how to open them up. We seemed to lack the urge and intelligence to win and that disappointed me.” Ouch. Full marks for observation, as Big Ron would say.

But in all that agony, do we detect a cry from the heart – a cry that says ”mea culpa”? For despite all his criticism – delivered, it must be said, in uncharacteristically concise style – Sir Bobby goes on to say that England returned ”with their reputation intact”. Hmm. Which reputation would that be, then? Their reputation for losing games that they should have won?

And when was that reputation acquired? In the years 1986, 1988 and 1990, we’d suggest. Mentioning no names, of course. ‘

Posted: 22nd, August 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink