Friday 15 February ~
Former players working as pundits tend to take a similar line on certain subjects: referees make mistakes because they've never played the game; players today feign injury too easily, especially the foreign lads; and Bryan Robson just needs more time. Kevin McCabe of Sheffield Utd was the fourth League club chairman to give Bryan a chance to get his ideas across but, like two of his three predecessors - the exception being Steve Gibson of Middlesbrough - he was just too impatient.
So after weeks of fan demonstrations, including one that prevented him from reaching his car at Bramall Lane last week, Bryan Robson is gone, having apparently turned down an alternative role. Managers in general are sacked far too quickly these days but there are some who should never been appointed. Ever since the successful early days at Boro, when he was given a lot of money to spend relative to most of his rival managers, Robson's stints in management follow the same weary pattern. There's a poor start, then a brief flurry followed by a longer decline, accompanied by increasingly awkward post-match interviews, with Bryan enveloped in a cloud of surliness as he mutters that the players aren't listening or, as was the case at Sheffield Utd, that they're not as good as he thought they were.
As Robson never seems to take any responsibility for his own actions, it’s hard to avoid the impression that he feels he has something akin to a divine right to be a manager. It's a fundamental flaw in English football that famous players are given repeated chances in management not afforded to lesser names. Indeed, the Mirror claims that United, currently 16th in the Championship, were “keen to retain Robson because he is such a respected name around the world” - which basically means that the Far Eastern buisinessmen whom the club are courting would have loved to meet up with Bryan to talk about the good old days.
The requirement that League managers now have to hold coaching badges may rein in starstruck club owners keen to appoint someone because they admired him as a player. But coaching badges in themselves are not a guarantee of competence - Bryan Robson has them, after all. Any supporter of a club currently without a manager, and with a chairman who would have been of impressionable age when Robson was a player, will be nervous for a while. And on Sky’s Soccer Saturday programme the assembled pundits will shake their sadly and wonder when Robbo will ever find an employer prepared to let him finish the job he started.