Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager... never was a statement more true
- Credit: Archant
REVIEW: Sports writer Andy Warren reviews Sir Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager - the new documentary about the life and career of the legendary manager.
He was certainly more than a manager. He still is.
But then most of us already knew that.
Sir Bobby Robson put Ipswich Town back on the map, came close to glory with England, blazed a trail in Portugal, Spain and Holland and then returned to his beloved Newcastle and helped give his public their club back.
He battled cancer five times then established a foundation in his own name which, nearly 10 years after his death in 2009, has raised £12million to battle the disease.
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He inspired Jose Mourinho, helped Pep Guardiola grow, nurtured the legend who is Ronaldo and kept his arm round Paul Gascoigne even through his most troubled times.
He also found himself battling a collision of internal politics and football in Barcelona, rejected his hometown Magpies in 1997 before having his heart broken by his sacking in 2004 and became the first football manager to be exposed to the full glare of the tabloid press during his time with England.
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But he did it all with a smile on his face, with a sharp wit, a sharper tongue when it was required and equal measures of passion, compassion and wonder.
Bobby Robson: More Than A Manager, the superb soon-to-be-released documentary, tells his story. There are no great revelations, no new sides to the great man and no headline-grabbing scenes, but its 98 minutes remind you just how special a man he was. You know his story, but the emotions can still surprise you.
You know he is gone, but his soft, distinctive North East voice serves as something of a narrator throughout, making you feel as if he is still with us.
He means different things to different people and everyone seems to have a personal story of their relationship with to ‘Mr Robson’.
The all-star cast assembled by directors Gabriel Clarke and Torquil Jones, including Ronaldo, Gary Lineker, Sir Alex Ferguson, Gazza, Mourinho, Guardiola and Alan Shearer, all share theirs. He touched all their lives, both on the pitch and away from football.
It’s beautifully shot, wonderfully paced and covers all bases. It is less about Robson the football manager than it is Robson the man. True legends of the game speak from the heart about a man they clearly care for deeply - nothing is forced, that is clear.
And if, somehow, you reach the end without an emotional understanding of just how special he was, you are reminded that Robson would much rather be remembered for his charity work than any of his glorious achievements on the football field.
I wasn’t born when his Ipswich side conquered Europe, was too young to understand the pain of the 1990 World Cup and was only mildly aware of his exploits on foreign shores at a time when European football was not accessible on TV.
To me he was the white-haired football gentleman who stopped to sign his name in my autograph book as am 11-year-old in 1997, a symbol of a glorious past, everthing that’s good, and the man everyone wanted to see succeed when he took the reins at St James’ Park.
I pass his bronzed perch on Portman Road most mornings, where he now watches over the football club where he truly made his name.
You could make a documentary on Sir Bobby’s time at Portman Road in its own right, but in the few minutes devoted to his 13 years in Suffolk you see just why he remains such an icon. Why there’s a statue, a stand, a suite, a bridge and a banner all dedicated to him around Portman Road.
There’s the football, of course, with the FA and UEFA Cup wins, but you see a young man finding his way, making his mark. You see him ordering tea, toast and jam for his team over the phone, telling Terry Butcher just what he thought of his defending and hear his wife, Lady Elsie, tell us just what those years and the club meant to him.
If you have tickets for the special screening of the film at Portman Road on Friday, you are certainly in for a treat.
You feel the next Ipswich manager should watch this film to get a true idea of what the club means. The Ipswich Way.
There will never be another Sir Bobby Robson, but his values, approach and passion should inspire the next man to follow him in Suffolk.
As his favourite song, which was played as the teams entered the pitch at Portman Road throughout last season, declares - he did it his way.
Bobby Robson: More Than A Manager coming to select theatres 1st June
Now available to pre-order, Digital Download 1st June & Blu-Ray/DVD 4th June