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Last Updated: Monday, 30 August, 2004, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
What went wrong for Robson?
By Mike Burnett

Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson

At the ripe old age of 71, it is a marvel that Sir Bobby Robson has lasted this long in one of the most stressful jobs in football.

But after five years at St James' Park, Newcastle have finally called time on his tenure as manager.

It is a sad end for one of football's most popular characters and a coach who has enjoyed impressive success at club and international level.

BBC Sport looks at what went wrong for Robson.

ANOTHER POOR START

The pressure was always going to be on Robson after Newcastle endured another poor start to their Premiership campaign.

The Magpies have failed to win any of their four games so far and have hardly impressed fans with performances on the pitch.

They let a 2-0 advantage slip against Premiership rookies Norwich last week and lost 4-2 at Aston Villa on Saturday, despite leading 2-1 at half-time.

It was a similar story last season when Newcastle had to wait until October to notch up their first league win.

LACK OF SILVERWARE

Robson took over at St James' Park in September 1999, succeeding Ruud Gullit and inheriting a side lying second bottom of the Premiership.

Since then, he has turned the Magpies' fortunes around with the side finishing in the top five of the Premiership for the last three years.

However, despite reaching the FA and Uefa Cup semi-finals and the second phase of the Champions League, Newcastle still have no trophies to show for their efforts five years down the line.

PLAYERS v THE MANAGER

If rumours are anything to go by, things have certainly been tough for Robson in the dressing room.

There were reports that Kieron Dyer had a bust-up with the manager after the side's pre-season defeat to Celtic.

Dyer rubbished the claims, but his subsequent refusal to play on the right side of midfield in the opening day fixture at Middlesbrough, which hit the headlines next, did little to ease the tension.

On Saturday, Robson left talismanic striker Alan Shearer sitting on the bench at Villa Park. Five years and three days earlier his predecessor Ruud Gullit had done the same against Sunderland, and he was forced out immediately afterwards.

Now the same fate has befallen Robson.

DESTINED TO LEAVE EARLY

It could be argued that Robson's position at St James' Park was given the kiss of death back at the start of August by Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd.

Shepherd confirmed to the media, apparently before telling his manager, that he would not extend Robson's contract when it expired at the end of the 2004-2005 season.

It was hardly a vote of confidence and this is not be the first time a Premiership manager left a club before he planned to.

Last season Gordon Strachan left his job as Southampton coach three months ahead of his planned departure.

TOO OLD?

At 71 years of age, Robson, in some people's eyes, should have headed into retirement, with the occasional after-dinner speech and TV pundit appearance, a long time ago.

Football's favourite uncle certainly has a wealth of experience with 55 years in the game.

His successes as a manager include FA Cup and Uefa Cup glory with Ipswich Town, reaching the World Cup semi-finals with England, plus more domestic and European triumphs with Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona.

He has also defied the medics in recent years, having a malignant melanoma removed from his face and beating colon cancer.

However, there are questions of whether a man of his age can put up with the modern demands of the game.

Robson may not want to retire to the golf course yet but is Britain's leading septuagenarian physically and mentally up to managing one of football's biggest clubs? The Newcastle board think not.






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