Two recent news items in English football are resonating in my head.
One was the sight of an ailing Sir Bobby Robson receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC’s annual televised Sports Personality of the Year ceremony and the other was a typically calculated media plug by Dimitar Berbatov’s agent on New Year’s Eve.
Sir Bobby, a player and coach of his country and a successful manager of Barcelona, PSV, Porto, Sporting Lisbon, Newcastle and Ipswich, looked frail and white-haired after his latest cancer treatment, but it was the media savaging of his England managing in the 1980s which had first hit him sideways and turned his hair grey.
The venomous ‘Robson Out’ campaign pursued by The Sun was just one example of how times had changed in football since Bobby’s playing days began, at Fulham in 1950.
The Togel Hongkong media plays such a big role now that one of the key questions posed about Fabio Capello’s accession to the England manager’s role was whether he could handle the hacks. Both Robson and his successor Graham Taylor withered under the unforgiving fingers of Fleet Street, which set a precedent for a Press v England manager feud thereafter. “Win every game!” was Taylor’s assessment of the only possible remedy.
Alf Ramsey was not without his critics, whom he saw as an enemy trying to destabilize his patriotic ambitions, and Sir Alf took great pleasure in proving them wrong when he won the World Cup in 1966. The impassioned ‘Jamais!’ (‘Never…will I forgive my critics!’) mantra of Aime Jacquet after winning the World Cup for France in 1998 springs readily to mind, too.
The negative comments about Sir Alf’s England were as nothing compared to the outright brutality aimed at Robson twenty …