The damage to a splendid reputation has already been done and nothing more than a public rebuke, if even that, is called for, surely.
Entrapment is the word one hears, anyway, about the programme, which had its ritual bad guy in the corpulent Joe Sim; so surprisingly friendly at a restaurant table with Sir Alex Ferguson, though there is no evidence of the least involvement of Fergie, while Sim’s insistence that Ferguson is his “brother,” however figurative, seems unsubstantiated.
You still wonder why Sim and his allies didn’t run a check on the Dispatches people early on rather than wait until the whole circus had come to London, when their lawyers belatedly and unavailingly, wanted to see the passport of the Indian pseudo-Indian millionaire who Dispatches claimed was going to finance the deal.
But since, as we know, that the club eventually and somewhat reluctantly put forward by Sim was Sheffield United, over £50 million in debt and down in what is in fact the 3rd division, you do wonder just what would have been gained by Dispatches, had they been on the level, controlling two clubs, as Robson suggested, rather than one. To what avail?
Into one’s memory the strange affair of Bryan Robson and his dislocatable shoulder. It had all too frequently been going out before the finals of the 1986 World Cup and went out again in Los Angeles, in a friendly won against Mexico.
Bobby Robson announced – a white lie, as he later charitably termed it, – that the shoulder hadn’t this time been dislocated. He also made the fatuous claim, after all those distinguished years in the game, as player and manager, that if a shoulder went out easily, it went back in easily. And then, of course, went out again.
So Robson played one game and a bit for England in the World Cup in Monterrey, finally and definitively to drop out during an abysmal showing by the team against Morocco.
Why did Bobby Robson procrastinate? He never offered a convincing explanation. During the course of a long one-to-one with him in his FA office at Lancaster Gate – tape recorder on the table – I couldn’t elicit a convincing answer. And no one yet has furnished one.