What is it with certain old men? Particularly the boyish old men, who are never really old men but boys in shabby skin with a broadening ever-more brittle frame? Maybe they remind us of what the spirit goes on doing after the body has stopped doing very much at all. That's to say it gets excited about childish things, it weeps and laughs over absurdities, it plots and schemes and gets knocked down, but then it cocks a snook and gets on. It loves wonderful nonsense. It manages prose perfectly well but its secret vice is dreaming, which is almost poetry.
I took a glance at a partisan Manchester United fan-site where almost everyone has gone off topic to raise a metaphorical hat to him, though he had nothing to do with them, not even as England manager since one of their running adverts continually declares United>England. The club means more than the nation.
I think he won just enough and failed just enough. That's an honest state of affairs. When he didn't know something he didn't pretend to know. He came before mind games and he came before huge fees. He was successful abroad which was something everyone could respect. He managed Gascoigne in the latter's wounded naive idiotic pride. His players sometimes advised him and, apparently, he took their advice while retaining their respect. He managed small clubs and he managed big ones. He was passionate to the point of inarticulacy but good natured and good hearted. He was of that kindly, outgoing, generous, working class that represents as much good as the country has to offer.
The crab got him in the end, but the crab knows nothing. It's a plotless enfeebler that has never built a team out of a bunch of tractor boys and a couple of dutchmen.
A few apocryphal (and possibly true) Robsonisms:
"They've probably played better than they've ever done for a few weeks."
“Ray Wilkins' day will come one night.”
“I'm not going to look beyond the semi-final - but I would love to lead Newcastle out at the final.”
“He never fails to hit the target. But that was a miss.’
“We didn't underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought.”
“Eighteen months ago Sweden were arguably one of the best three teams in Europe, and that would include Germany, Holland, Russia and anybody else if you like.”
"We can't replace Gary Speed. Where do you get an experienced player like him with a left foot and a head?"
“If you count your chickens before they've hatched, they won't lay an egg.”
“Alan Shearer has done very well for us, considering his age. We have introduced some movement into his game because he has got two good legs now. Last season he played with one leg.”
“He has four lungs and two hearts – no doubt about it.”
“He's very fast and if he gets a yard ahead of himself nobody will catch him.”
"I've had to come out of the dressing room because I don't want to get too excited."
"We've dropped two points against Ipswich and I mean that sincerely."
“Some of the goals were good, some of the goals were sceptical.”
“I'd say he's the best in Europe, if you put me on the fence.”
And, pure Beckett:
"We are all in the same bucket."
OK, pure Bucket. Quotes from here (but probably, I suspect, from everywhere and nowhere.)
There it was. There goes life!