Sir Bobby was almost Arsenal manager

By Avenell Dave

Addict isn’t in the habit of writing articles about other teams or players or coaches – we have enough to contend with considering the trials, tribulations and pursuit of glory in N5.

But today we make an exception.

No doubt you know by now that Sir Bobby Robson has finally lost his battle with cancer at the age of 76 – and one of football’s most decent and honourable men has been lost to the game.

After a decent playing career, it was as Ipswich manager that he made his name as a coach and, sadly for us Gooners, masterminded the TractorBoys FA Cup final victory over us in 1978.

But it was his spell as England manager that really brought him to the world’s attention, showing time and again that despite the huge pressures life and football put him under, he was calm and respectful when others around him lost their heads.

Few Englishmen travel well when it comes to football and yet Sir Bobby made a name for himself at PSV Eindhoven, Porto, Sporting and Barcelona where no other than Jose Mourinho was his translator.

And even when he coached Newcastle United, his hometown club, and had some run-ins with Arsenal (most notably when Dennis Bergkamp kicked a ball at a Newcastle player, who was then sent off for not retreating from the subsequent free kick in time), he always had affection for Arsenal.

“Arsenal.... still have that bit of breeding, that class, reflected in the Hill-Wood family. One of the pillars of the game, Arsenal.”

What many of you may not know is that when Bruce Rioch left in 1996, Sir Bobby was lined up as the new manager but issues even then with his health and other reasons prevented it from happening.

Who knows what direction the club would have gone in, whether it would have been as successful or not.

Sir Bobby enjoyed a great relationship with former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, having worked with him during their time at the FA.

Sir Bobby was a true gent in a world of scoundrels and, whether red and white, black and white or anything in between, his death today is a sad loss to football and to the world in general.