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Friday 31 July 2009

Not Yet Bettered

An air of realisation has descended on those hacks who habitually lay into England football managers with the passing of the great Bobby Robson this morning. What many didn’t say nearly loudly enough during his life – and especially at the time of Italia ’90 - was that, under his leadership, England had come closer to matching the exploits of 1966 than at any time in the intervening 24 years. And they haven’t been that close since.

Robson was for many years the manager of Ipswich Town – as was Alf Ramsey before him – and the Tractor Boys haven’t done as well since he left. And he managed not only in England, but all over Europe. It was during his time outside the UK that he mentored and enthused one man who has taken Robson’s lessons on board, and become massively successful himself.

That man was José Mourinho. Robson used the Portuguese as his translator during his time at Sporting, FC Porto and Barcelona in the 1990s. Mourinho never forgot his debt to Robson, and today has given the most moving of tributes, which has been reported by the Guardian amongst others.

It begins: “It is difficult to accept such a person is no longer with us”.

You and me both, José.

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