Sir Bobby Robson RIP
Sir Bobby Robson RIP

Lord rest him, Uncle Sir Bobby Robson not only came across as one of the genuine good guys in the game, but his on-screen appearances rarely left you without a smile on your face – albeit perhaps not always for the reasons Bobby intended. The grand old gentleman of guff.

Bobby was a dab hand at the effective metaphor, the image that makes a complex concept clear as a bell.

“We put some good subs on to hang onto the fort.”

“Tottenham have impressed me – they haven’t thrown in the towel even though they’ve been under the gun.”

“When Gazza was dribbling, he used to go through a minefield with his arm, a bit like you go through a supermarket.”

It’s not widely appreciated that Bob’s the Cassius Clay of modern times. Who else in the world of sport can compose an amusing poetic ditty off the cuff?

“We’ve voodooed the hoodoo!”

“We need to get that point as soon as possible. The tooter the sweeter.”

A particular speciality of Bobby was the contradiction. He had that rare ability to begin a sentence with an utterance that, by the time the sentence stumbles to its conclusion, has been comprehensively gainsaid.

“Manchester United dropped points, Liverpool dropped points, Chelsea dropped points, Everton dropped points, so in a way we haven’t lost anything at all really, although we dropped all three…”

“They’ve probably played better than they’ve ever done for a few weeks.”

“Ray Wilkins’ day will come one night.”

“I’m not going to look beyond the semi-final – but I would love to lead Newcastle out at the final.”

“He never fails to hit the target. But that was a miss.’

“Maybe not goodbye, but farewell.”

“We didn’t underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought.”

“Eighteen months ago Sweden were arguably one of the best three teams in Europe, and that would include Germany, Holland, Russia and anybody else if you like.”

And Exhibit B for the prosecution – Bobby’s unique way with a tautology:
“Home advantage gives you an advantage.”

“In a year’s time, he’s a year older.”

“The margin is very marginal.”

“Their football was exceptionally good – and they played some good football.”

Bobby’s medical knowledge was second to none, though. Or maybe that should be zero-to-none…

“Nobby Solano discharged himself from hospital after the Tottenham game and he’s driving, living the life and aware of who he is.”

“We can’t replace Gary Speed. Where do you get an experienced player like him with a left foot and a head?”

“Gary Speed has never played better, never looked fitter, never been older.”

“They’ve never really allowed the Germans have a free head.”

“Everton will want to sedate Wayne Rooney and keep the boy calm, and that is the right thing to do.”

“If you count your chickens before they’ve hatched, they won’t lay an egg.”

“Alan Shearer has done very well for us, considering his age. We have introduced some movement into his game because he has got two good legs now. Last season he played with one leg.”

“He has four lungs and two hearts – no doubt about it.”

Bobby never let his professional life interfere with his domestic life. If anything, it was the other way around:

“Newcastle have always had a poor pitch in winter. We don’t have the better weather. My lawn up here isn’t as good as my lawn in Ipswich.”

“I’ve just lost my house. I don’t know where I’m going to sleep tonight.”

“Football’s like a big market place, and people go to the market every day to buy their vegetables.”

“People want success. It’s like coffee, they want instant.”

For many, it was the man’s sheer tactical nous that stood out:

“No team won anything without a dodgy keeper.”

“The first ninety minutes of a football match are the most important.”

“Well, we got nine and you can’t score more than that.”

“Anything from 1-0 to 2-0 would be a nice result.”

“We haven’t had a strategic free kick all night. No one’s knocked over attackers ad lib.”

“I do want to play the short ball and I do want to play the long ball. I think long and short balls is what football is all about.”

“He’s very fast and if he gets a yard ahead of himself nobody will catch him.”

But at the end of the day, what made us love Uncle Bobby was his sheer Bobbyness. Nobody else in the world of football could produce Grade A guff of this sort:

“We are all in the same bucket.”

“I’ve had to come out of the dressing room because I don’t want to get too excited.”

“We’ve dropped two points against Ipswich and I mean that sincerely.”

“Some of the goals were good, some of the goals were sceptical.”

“I’d say he’s the best in Europe, if you put me on the fence.”

“We’re flying on Concorde. That’ll shorten the distance. That’s self-explanatory.”

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