These days man-management is the buzz-word in coaching, but it’s not a modern phenomenon.
The greatest football leaders of all time demonstrated those skills decades before Gareth Southgate arrived.
Sir Bobby Robson falls into that select group and those who were fortunate enough to work with him agree this was his greatest strength.
In 1968, barely settled into his player-manager role at the Vancouver Royals, Robson was called back to manage Fulham, the club that had signed him as a professional player in 1950.
Eight months later Fulham languished near the bottom of Division 2. They were relegated and Robson was sacked.
Reduced to tears in the centre circle at Craven Cottage, with no reputation, pay check or future, he vowed to himself this would never happen again.
This early stumble was the springboard to a long and rewarding career.
Six months later Robson got a second bite of the managerial cherry at Ipswich Town. He was an instant success and got rewarded with a ten-year contract.
He was the best paid member of staff and, with FA and UEFA Cup titles to show for his managerial skills and efforts, life could not have been better.
A greater challenges arose when Robson accepted the role as England national coach in 1982.
The press were harsh when Robson’s England flopped in the 1988 European Championships, but he came within a penalty shootout of leading his country to the World Cup Final just two-years later.
That was Robson’s swansong as manager of the national team, but subsequent ventures beyond home shores brought successes in Holland, Portugal and Spain.
Robson eventually returned to England and was knighted in recognition for his services to football in 2002.
Despite being diagnosed with cancer in 1992 and dealing with several recurrences, his passion for football never waned.
Through the trials and tribulations of management he learnt how to deal with players individually – to man-manage. This was during an era where it was the norm to whip players into line.
Sir Bobby Robson became everything to everyone who worked with him – players and managers past and present. A father figure to Paul Gascoigne, saviour of Alan Shearer’s career and Newcastle United, discoverer of Ronaldo, inspiration to Pep Guardiola and mentor to Jose Mourinho.
Sir Bobby was able to get the best out of his players and teams.
The legacy of this inspiring and influential manager lives on beyond the football pitches of England.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of his passing away. The love and respect for those he worked with has not wavered.
RIP Sir Bobby!