Sir Bobby - End of an era?

ONE of the most experienced and popular managers in world football, former Ipswich Town boss Sir Bobby Robson, spoke of his disappointment last night after being sacked by Newcastle United.

ONE of the most experienced and popular managers in world football, former Ipswich Town boss Sir Bobby Robson, spoke of his disappointment last night after being sacked by Newcastle United.

The move to dismiss the 71-year-old, still a legend in East Anglia after 13 glorious years with Ipswich, could now bring a permanent end to Sir Bobby's managerial career.

He was "relieved of his duties" at St James' Park after five years in charge, said the club.

The dismissal came as no surprise to supporters after a poor start to the Premiership season, both on and off the pitch.

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But they were adamant the former England boss will be remembered as one of the club's best managers.

And tributes have also been paid to his outstanding career by fans in East Anglia, where he incredibly managed Ipswich to FA Cup glory in 1978, and the UEFA Cup in 1981. He attended the unveiling of a statue in his honour at Portman Road two years ago.

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Ian Pennock, chairman of the Ipswich Supporters' Club, said: "He loved Newcastle as much as he loved Ipswich and it must hurt him. But he will be back and I hope he gets a job in football - he has a lot to offer.

"My reaction was one of shock that it has come to this although obviously I do not know the ins and outs of Newcastle United because I am an Ipswich supporter but if the rumours are to be believed he has not been given total control up there.

"I think he has been treated shoddily in the fact that it was made clear that he would not get his contract renewed at the end of the season. I am disappointed for him."

Frank Gilmour, chairman of the Independent Newcastle United Supporters Association, said: "It is a sad day for Newcastle United and for Sir Bobby.

"It is not the way a manager of his calibre should leave a club and it would have been better if he had decided when he had to go.

"But it was expected as there was obviously something very seriously wrong, judging by the performances on the pitch.'

His departure came after Newcastle lost 4-2 at Aston Villa on Saturday, leaving them with only two points from four Premiership games this season.

Rumours of unrest in the dressing room and among players such as Alan Shearer and former Ipswich star Kieron Dyer have also been rife in recent weeks.

In a statement, the club said: "After a disappointing start to the Barclays Premiership season, the directors of Newcastle United have informed Sir Bobby Robson that they have decided he is to be replaced as team manager.'

They thanked him for his tireless work to try to bring success, adding: "The club continues to have the greatest respect and admiration for Sir Bobby and his lifelong achievements both at home, abroad and particularly at the club he has supported since a boy, his beloved Newcastle.'

Sir Bobby said: "I am massively disappointed not to be able to finish the job I came here to do.

"I have immensely enjoyed my time here as manager, and I wish the club all the best of success in the future.

"At the present moment, I have absolutely nothing to say except to thank the Geordie fans for their tremendous enthusiasm, loyalty and support.'

Fans outside St James' Park said they were sad for Sir Bobby but not surprised by the decision.

Supporters continued to shop at the store, but there was no crowd gathered outside.

Glenn Brittle, 19, from Longbenton, said: "It's a sad day for Sir Bobby. He's a great fellow but something had to give.'

Simon Percy, 26, from Whitley Bay, said: "I just don't think it's the right way to go about it, especially at the start of the season. But someone had to go. I think (chairman Freddie) Shepherd should go as well.'

Born in County Durham in 1933, Sir Bobby spent his playing career at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion and won 20 caps for England.

The midfielder went into management for Vancouver Royals in 1967 then Fulham the following year, though he was sacked after just 11 months at the helm.

He took over at Ipswich in 1969 and had 13 years of success, including the FA and UEFA cups.

He was appointed England manager in 1982 and saw his team knocked out of the 1986 World Cup quarter finals by the infamous Diego Maradona "Hand of God'.

In Italy 1990, England reached the semi-finals, only to lose to arch-rivals West Germany on penalties.

He stepped down after the tournament and went on to glory at some of Europe's biggest clubs, including PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona, before joining Newcastle in 1999.

Ladbrokes have made former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier 2/1 favourite to replace him, with current Birmingham manager and Geordie Steve Bruce at 5/2. Alan Shearer is 11/4 while Celtic's Martin O'Neill is 8/1.

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