Longtime England manager Bobby Robson (shown above in 1987, with Gary Linekar on his right and Bryan Robson to his left) passed away earlier today following a long battle with cancer. Though best known for a tumultuous spell managing the England team, Robson achieved considerable success at Ipswich during a club career that included tenures at Fulham, Newcastle, Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven, Porto and Barcelona. The following excerpt from the Telegraph’s Friday morning obit picks up around the time of England’s 1990 World Cup campaign, 4 years after Robson’s side was victimized by Diego Maradona in Mexico.
Robson again found himself pilloried by the newspapers. Not only had England performed wretchedly in the 1988 European Championships, but details of an alleged love affair had also surfaced, and the FA had crassly announced that whatever happened in the World Cup, Robson would be replaced at its end. Normally a genial man, for much of the tournament Robson wore the air of a man under siege.
The side was once more handicapped by the absence of Bryan Robson, and by the inexperience of some players caused by the ban on English clubs entering European competition after the Heysel disaster; but the emergence of David Platt, and Robson’s acceptance of the players’ wish to employ a sweeper system, brought the team through to a semi-final meeting with Germany in Turin. It was the first time that England had reached this stage since 1966.
Yet again, in a match that was always bound to be close, luck went against Robson. The Germans scored with a freak deflection off Paul Parker, and though Lineker equalised magnificently, the outcome fell to be determined by penalties. Waddle ballooned his over the bar, and England were out. They subsequently lost the third-place match to Italy.
There were many observers who felt that, had the result in Turin gone the other way, Robson’s side might well have prevailed in the Final against Argentina. Instead, the nature of his defeat haunted Robson for years afterwards, and he could never speak about it in a manner that implied he had come to terms with it.