Sir Bobby ready for next job

HE may be approaching his 72nd birthday, but a chipper Sir Bobby Robson is still itching to get back into football management.Looking relaxed, fit and 15 years younger than his age, Robson was back in Ipswich yesterday opening the new Ransomes Jacobsen building.

By Derek Davis

HE may be approaching his 72nd birthday, but a chipper Sir Bobby Robson is still itching to get back into football management.

Looking relaxed, fit and 15 years younger than his age, Robson was back in Ipswich yesterday opening the new Ransomes Jacobsen building.

Since being relieved of his duties as Newcastle United manager, Robson has been linked with a number of vacancies, with Wolves the latest to be mentioned, and he admits he is ready to get back into a hot seat.

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Robson is biding his time for the most suitable opening but, first, is waiting for his contract at St James' Park to be settled.

He said: “There have been one or two offers but at the moment all I can do is wait until my contract has been paid up.

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“That is progressing and it is in the hands of the League Managers' Association

“I'm not ready to take the wrong job but I am ready to take the right job.

“I'm fit, alert and I'm still bright. None of the enthusiasm has gone and I'm ready to get back into it.

“In the meantime, I'm keeping myself busy, in fact I'm doing so many things I don't know how I found time to go to work.”

The pain of the appallingly shabby treatment he received from the Newcastle United board, who undermined him for months before sacking him, is still evident but Robson is taking a philosophical approach.

He said: “I'm getting over what happened to me at Newcastle. Life goes on, and you mustn't look back, you must look forward and that is what I'm doing.”

Ipswich Town supporters have called on Robson to be made the Blues' President, a position which has been open since Lady Blanche Cobbold died in October, 1987.

So far, though, no official approach from the club has been made. Robson said: “That has not been asked of me so I can't say anything about that.”

Robson, though, admits Ipswich Town is still very close to his heart.

He said: “I lived in the Town for more than 30 years and had 14 of my best years in football while I was here.

“It was my baby but the baby has grown up and Joe Royle is doing a remarkably good job there.”

So good, in fact, that Robson has tipped Town for promotion - and is also looking forward to an East Anglian derby next season.

He said: “Ipswich look hot favourites to go up and I hope they do. I also hope that Norwich City can stay up and, if both teams can be playing in the Premiership, it would be thrilling for the whole East Anglian region.

“Joe is an expert manager and is a good talker. He is doing a good, solid job with very little money to play with.

“He has had to sell his best players yet still keep the club at the top. That is a difficult job I can tell you, very difficult.

“They have not got a large squad, it is a quality squad so it may depend on injuries to key players and he may have to bring players in but, on the surface of things, I can't see any team playing better than Ipswich.

“They have hit a consistent run and the thing now is - can they keep it going?

“The trick is to do as well after Christmas as they have done up to it but, at the moment, they are flying high.”

Despite being away from the day-to-day running of a club, Robson's wife Lady Elsie still does not see much of her husband because he remains so busy.

When he is not working as an analyst for ITV's Champions' League coverage, he is in demand as an after- dinner speaker and is even fitting in some golf.

He said: “I wouldn't say I'm enjoying the break, but I'm fitting a lot of things in.

“I am doing the Liverpool v Monaco game next week, I was in Prague watching Manchester United's game and recently went to Russia to cover the CSKA Moscow/Chelsea match.

“While I was there, instead of rushing in and back as you normally have to on football trips, I was there five days and utilised that time by going to Spartak Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow and speaking to the coaches and it was very interesting and worthwhile.”

Robson, though, needs little excuse to return to the town where he built sides which won the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981.

He said: “When I was asked to open the new Ransomes Jacobsen building wild horses wouldn't stop me, I was thrilled to be asked.

“I love this town. I spent 13 great years and we built three great teams.

“The 1981 team was marvellous, the FA Cup side of 1978 was terrific and there was the side that got us to the 1975 semi-finals of FA Cup. We were robbed at Stamford Bridge after Bryan Hamilton had two perfectly good goals ruled out.”

It may have been nearly 30 years ago but it clearly still rankles. So, any doubts that the fire is not still in the belly, can be swiftly dispelled.

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