Sir Bobby Robson: The Legendary Fighter’s All-Time Best XI

Sir Bobby Robson is number 41 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next 10 weeks. You can find Will Imbo’s career overview of Sir Bobby ?here.


Sir Bobby Robson’s managerial career saw him coach seven teams in four different countries, as well as the England national team.

Almost universally loved by every player under his stewardship, Robson managed some of the best players – ‘beautiful players’ as Robson himself would aptly put it – this game has ever seen.

So much so that legends such as Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker and Luis Enrique don’t make his all-time XI. 

Read on to discover how his squad shapes up as we continue 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Managers of All Time series.


Goalkeeper & Defenders

FUSSBALL: Spanischer Pokal Real Madrid - FC Barcelona 1:1

Hans van Breukelen – Robson has had his fair share of solid stoppers to rely on, but Van Breukelen pips the rest to the number one shirt. He was the four-time Dutch goalkeeper of the year, six-time Eredivisie winner with PSV (twice under Robson), and also won the European Championship with the Netherlands and the European Cup in 1988.

Eric Gerets – One of the game’s greatest right backs, the Belgian is the first member of Robson’s all-time back three. The two crossed paths at PSV, where Gerets – nicknamed the ‘Lion of Flanders’ – won the Dutch league title on six occasions, and captained the Boeren to their sole European Cup title in 1988. He is also one of six managers to have won domestic league championships in at least four countries.

Laurent Blanc – The classy Frenchman was the defensive rock of Robson’s treble-winning Barcelona side in the late nineties, winning the Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup and UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup. He also won the World Cup and the Euros with France in 1998 and 2000 respectively, as well as the Premier League with Man Utd in 2003.

Fernando Couto – The Portuguese centre-back worked with Robson at Porto and Barcelona, and over a 21-year career in the game, played almost 600 matches. He won the domestic double in Portugal, Spain and Italy, and is one of Portugal’s most famous players.


Midfielders

Josep Guardiola of Spain

Pep Guardiola – When Robson joined Newcastle in 1999, Guardiola sent his former Barcelona manager a message, asking for a transfer to St James’ Park. Robson didn’t oblige, but it shows just how much respect Guardiola had for the great man, who won six La Liga titles with Barça and was named in Johan Cruyff’s all-time XI.?

Luis Figo – The Ballon d’Or winner was among the world’s best players in the late nineties and early 2000’s, and played under Robson at Sporting CP and Barcelona. He was the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year and still sits fourth in the all-time assists table in La Liga.

Arnold Muhren – The Dutch wizard has many accolades to his name, but none more impressive than this. He is one of the few players to have won all three major UEFA-organised club competitions: the European Cup, the Cup Winner’s Cup, and the UEFA Cup, the latter of which he won with Ipswich whilst Robson was boss at Portman Road.?

Hristo Stoichkov – Another Ballon d’Or winner to have played under Robson, Stoichkov is regarded as the greatest Bulgarian player of all time and one of the greatest attackers to have played the game, with 219 goals to his name. Fortunately he also frequently played as an attacking midfielder or winger, which is ideal for this greatest XI due to the formidable strikers below. 


Forwards

SOCCER-ROBSON/RONALDO

Alan Shearer – The Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer, Shearer spent five seasons under Robson at Newcastle, scoring 117 goals in 219 games, and helping the Magpies to three consecutive top-five finishes. The pair are both bonafide Newcastle legends.

Romario – The Brazilian clashed with Robson whilst at PSV, with the Englishman questioning Romario’s work ethic. However, Robson did admit that ‘in some matches he would be scintillating’. Romario scored an officially recognised 688 goals in 886 games at club level and 55 goals from 70 caps for Brazil. He has more awards to his name than I could possibly list here, but suffice to say he won the 1994 World Cup, won the Golden Ball for that tournament and was the World Player of the Year that same year.

Ronaldo – The best player I ever worked with? Tough competition, but it has to be Brazil’s Ronaldo. I signed him for Barcelona in 1996 after I failed to get Alan Shearer from Blackburn. Ronaldo was lean, mean, as quick as an Olympic sprinter and some of the goals he scored had me shaking my head in disbelief.”

Robson does his best to summarize the player that was Ronaldo, one of the all-time greats to have played the game. In his sole season working with Sir Bobby at Barcelona, he scored an astonishing 47 goals in 49 games. Injuries stopped him from achieving his full potential, but there’s no doubt that Ronaldo belongs in Robson’s all-time greatest XI. 


Number 50: Marcelo Bielsa: The Argentina Manager’s All Time Best XI

Number 49: Vic Buckingham: The English Manager’s All Time Best XI

Number 48: Claudio Ranieri: The Tinkerman’s All Time Best XI

Number 47: Bill Nicholson: The Tottenham Legend’s All Time Best XI

Number 46: Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Former Lazio Manager’s All Time Best XI

Number 45: Sir Alf Ramsey: The World Cup Winer’s All Time Best XI

Number 44: Antonio Conte: The Fiery Italian’s All-Time Best XI

Number 43: Kenny Dalglish: The King of Anfield’s All-Time Best XI

Number 42: ?Massimiliano Allegri: The Six-Time Serie A Winner’s All-Time Best XI

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