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Managerial Review: Sir Bobby Robson

Robson is unveiled in front of thousands of fans in September 1999. Picture courtesy of NUFC.

It goes without saying that Sir Bobby was a true legend of the footballing world, not just Newcastle United. On a personal level, I feel privileged that I, in my growing up years, supported and fell in love with the game and the club with Bobby at the centre of it all.

Robson came to the club whilst the Toon were still awaiting their first win of the season which predecessor, Ruud Guillit failed to deliver before his deserved sacking. Six games had been played with only one point on the board and a painful defeat at home to Sunderland, the game where Alan Shearer was ridiculously dropped to the bench.

The target for his first season was to recover the disastrous start and stay up. Injuries to key players proved to be a huge hindrance on progress the following season as a mid table finish beckoned once again but it gave the youth of the club some first team experience. An excellent few years followed for the club with title challenges and Champions League qualifications. This came at a time when Robson had Shearer at the peak of his powers, a combination that worked incredibly well.

However, in the 2003/04 season, Bobby could not quite exceed the understandably high standards set by then owner, Freddy Shepherd. Poor form away from home was a big issue that was in the way of another Champions League qualification. After a winless first four games to the following season, Robson was given the sack and sadly never managed again.

Date: 3rd September 1999 to 30th August 2004 (1,850 days)


League: Played: 188, Won: 83, Drawn: 51, Lost: 54, Goals for: 294, Goals against: 235, Goal difference: +59, Pts: 300. Win ratio: 44%

Home (league): Played: 94, Won: 58, Drawn: 19, Lost: 17, Goals for: 174, Goals against: 88, Goal difference: +86, Pts: 193. Win ratio: 62%

Away (league): Played: 94, Won: 25, Drawn: 32, Lost: 37, Goals for: 119, Goals against: 147, Goal difference: -28, Pts: 107. Win ratio: 27%.

Domestic Cup: Played: 27, Won: 13, Drawn: 4, Lost: 10, Goals for: 53, Goals against: 33, Goal difference: +20. Win ratio: 48%

Europe: Played: 40, Won: 23, Drawn: 8, Lost: 9, Goals for: 70, Goals against: 42, Goal difference: +28. Win ratio: 58%

Home (all competitions): Played: 128, Won: 80, Drawn: 25, Lost: 23, Goals for: 246, Goals against: 123, Goal difference: +123. Win ratio: 63%

Away (all competitions): Played: 128, Won: 41, Drawn: 38, Lost: 49, Goals for: 169 Goals against: 190, Goal difference: -21. Win ratio: 32%

Total: Played: 255, Won: 119, Drawn: 63, Lost: 73, Goals for: 417, Goals against: 310, Goal difference: +107. Win ratio: 47%

Season by Season


Premier League: 11th (Played: 32, Won: 14, Drawn: 9, Lost: 9, Goals for: 55, Goals against: 36, Goal difference: +19, Pts: 51)

League Cup: 3rd Round (v Birmingham City)

FA Cup: Semi-Final (v Chelsea)

UEFA Cup: 3rd Round (v Roma)


Premier League: 11th (Played: 38, Won: 14, Drawn: 9, Lost: 15, Goals for: 44, Goals against: 50, Goal difference: -6, Pts: 51)

League Cup: 4th Round (v Birmingham City)

FA Cup: 3rd Round (v Aston Villa)


Premier League: 4th (Played: 38, Won: 21, Drawn: 8, Lost: 9, Goals for: 74, Goals against: 52, Goal difference: +22, Pts: 71)

League Cup: Quarter-Final (v Chelsea)

FA Cup: Quarter-Final (v Arsenal)

Intertoto Cup: Final stage (v Troyes)

Robson and the team in training prior to their match against Barcelona in the Champions League - December 2002. Picture courtesy of The Chronicle.


Premier League: 3rd (Played: 38, Won: 21, Drawn: 6, Lost: 11, Goals for: 63, Goals against: 48, Goal difference: +15, Pts: 69)

League Cup: 3rd Round (v Everton)

FA Cup: 3rd Round (v Wolves)

Champions League: 3rd place in the Second Group Stage (v Internazionale, Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen)


Premier League: 5th (Played: 38, Won: 13, Drawn: 17, Lost: 8, Goals for: 52, Goals against: 40, Goal difference: +12, Pts: 56)

League Cup: 3rd Round (v West Brom)

FA Cup: 4th Round (v Liverpool)

Champions League: 3rd Qualifying Round (v Partizan Belgrade)

UEFA Cup: Semi-Final (v Marseille)


Premier League: (Played: 4, Won: 0, Drawn: 2, Lost 2, Goals for: 9, Goals against: 9, Goal difference: -3, Pts: 2)

Landmark matches

Biggest win

Newcastle United 8 (Aaron Hughes 11, Alan Shearer 30, pen 33, 42, 81, pen 84, Kieron Dyer 46, Gary Speed 78) Sheffield Wednesday 0 - (19/09/1999)

I think this match defines how to make a good first impression. Fellow relegation strugglers at the time, Sheffield Wednesday were the visitors in Robson's first home game for the club. With the score 4-0 at half time thanks to Alan Shearer's last Premier League hat-trick, it was difficult to comprehend that this team had just been playing with Ruud Guillit in charge just weeks beforehand.

Both the first half and second half were comprehensive routs against the Owls who got relegated later in the season and have not been back in the top flight since. With that all important first win finally on the board, the road to recovering the season well and truly began.

50th win

Newcastle United 1 (Alan Shearer pen 30) Derby County 0 - (24/11/2001)

Alan Shearer's penalty on the half hour mark proved to be the all important winning goal to give Robson his 50th win as Newcastle manager. This win triggered an excellent run of form as the Magpies went on to win five of the following six matches which placed them as serious title contenders during the Christmas period.

Shearer scores the winning goal from the spot to keep the Champions League dream alive. Picture courtesy of BBC Sport.

50th home win

Newcastle United 2 (Gary Speed 58, Alan Shearer pen 69) Dynamo Kiev 1 - (29/10/2002)

Newcastle maintained their continuing recovery in the Champions League's first group stage after coming from behind to win over Dynamo Kiev which simultaneously gave Robson his 50th Newcastle win at St. James' Park. The worst possible start occurred earlier in the group (shared with Juventus, Feyenoord and Dynamo Kiev) with three defeats and no goals. The recovery began the week before Kiev came to town when Andy Griffin scored the only goal of the game past Gianluigi Buffon to beat Juventus. The recovery was successfully completed two weeks after the win over Kiev with a dramatic win in Rotterdam against Feyenoord.

100th win

NAC Breda 0 Newcastle United 1 (Laurent Robert 86) - (15/10/2003)

Laurent Robert scored a late winner and no it was not a screamer like the many in his collection. It was a rather low key victory against the Dutch side after Newcastle had won the earlier first leg 5-0. The win in Breda ensured qualification to the second round of the UEFA Cup. This match gave Robson his landmark 100th win as Newcastle manager in his 207th match in charge of the club.

Further landmark matches

First match: Chelsea 1 - 0 Newcastle United (11/09/1999)

Biggest defeat: Chelsea 5 - 0 Newcastle United (09/11/2003)

Last match: Aston Villa 4 - 2 Newcastle United (28/08/2004)

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