Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bryan Robson Should Remain Manchester United Ambassador

Not every great player becomes an equally great manager.

After flopping with English club sides Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion, former Manchester United and England legend Bryan Robson has not only failed to help Thailand reach the 2011 AFC Asian Cup finals in Qatar, but also contrived to send the once-fearsome powerhouses out of the AFF Suzuki Cup at the group stage.

Even former English teammate Peter Reid has modestly managed to bring the Thais to the final of the last edition before returning to familiar pastures in England. What an amazing turnaround Robson has done for Thailand in his more-than-a-year tenure.

The last time a manager, who was a former German World Cup finalist named Sigfried Held, failed to get the Thais past the group stage of the biennial tournament, then named the AFF Tiger Cup, he was promptly given the boot - three months after the debacle while seeing his home country humble his employers 5-1 in Bangkok in between.

Robson is unlikely to escape the long knives that await him when the team return to Bangkok (with probably protesters from both political camps waiting to throw rotten tom yam and all) following the latest fiasco.

When he was first appointed by FIFA Executive Committee member and Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi to succeed Reid after the latter left to become Tony Pulis' sidekick at Premiership club Stoke City, it was supposed to be a personal revival of his flagging managerial fortunes and help bring the Thais to a new level of glory after Kiatisuk Senamuang, J Surachai and company in the last decade.

It was anything but. After beating Singapore 3-1 away in his first competitive game in charge of the team in the Asian Cup qualifiers, he then immediately lost the home leg to the same team days later in Bangkok.

Following failure to qualify for the Asian Cup, which ended a streak of appearances that had started from 1992 to 2007, he had now failed to gel a team of talented individuals to get the results that mattered.

The lack of preparation (Robson only had one day before the first group game to train the squad as a whole after the majority were involved in the Thai FA Cup final a week before the international tournament) could be pointed out as a major factor behind this fiasco.

But the combination of physical fatigue and probable unwillingness of the Thais to fully cooperate with him and Steve Darby, former assistant coach now technical director at FAT, has lef to this fiasco, possibly even worse than the 2004 situation. When a team refuse to listen to their head coach, his days are numbered.

Like UEFA President Michel Platini, Sir Bobby Charlton, Diego Maradona and many legends before him, the former brave midfield general should possibly have realised his true limits in terms of managing a football team in an environment where results mean life or death for the man in the hot seat.

He should now concentrate on doing what he has done best in his other present football capacity - to be a global ambassador for English giants Manchester United. His passion and enthusiasm for the game will inspire many youths worldwide to pick up the sport, and his presence in these lands will help cultivate the game.

But World Cup 2014 in Brazil for Thailand - as envisioned by the man Worawi himself - after all these under this gentleman? You are having a laugh.

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