Man United legend Bryan Robson turned down chance to coach ISL franchise
Mumbai: Former England football captain Bryan Robson today disclosed that he turned down offers to coach in Indian Super League because of his commitments to the Premier League's glamour outfit Manchester United as its global brand ambassador.
"I know about the Indian Super League and unluckily or luckily had to reject the offers to be the coach of some of the teams as it involved four months' commitment and my priority is Manchester United," said Robson.
Robson, who led his country on 26 occasions and was capped 90 times by England in the 1980s, said he had heard a lot of positive things about the ISL from Peter Reid, the coach of Mumbai City FC in the first year, and Mikael Silvestre, who played for Chennaiyin FC in 2014.
The 59-year-old Manchester United legend, who was part of the back-to-back premiership title winning Man United teams in 1992-93 and 1993-94, was on his first-ever visit to the city to inaugurate India's first "Go The Distance" artificial football pitch, made out of recycled rubber by Apollo Tyres with which the Premiership club is associated with, in suburban Powai.
Talking about the upcoming Euro 2016, Robson named World Cup champions Germany as the favourites for the title, while expecting some good show by his home country, England, in the continental championship to be played in France from June 10-July 10.
"I think Germany go into competition as favourites. They have got some great players. They proved in the World Cup what a very good team they are and they go in are favourites.
"This time around England have developed a young team with a lot of pace and stamina around them. We can go into this competition in France and do very well," said Robson who was Manchester United's longest-serving captain after moving to the club from West Bromwich Albion in 1981.
"English Premier League is great to watch. We have top class players from around the world. (But) When we are looking around for great players for England, we don't have an abundance of them," Robson said.
Robson said the arrival of young strikers like Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur and Jamie Vardy of Leicester will improve England's chances at the Euro, but he did not lay his money on his country winning its first major world title after lifting the World Cup in 1966.
"Over the years, we have had Wayne Rooney, (Stephen) Gerard, people like that. England will do really well with Harry Kane and Vardy coming to the team with a lot of enthusiasm and real passion to do well. They are not local super stars within our league. Mentality-wise, England can go into the competition very well.
"I would like to think so (that England can win its first major football crown in nearly half a century), but I still got to say if people were to give me money and say you have to bet on one of the teams, my money will be on Germany."
Referring to his club Manchester United's recent indifferent run under Dutchman Louis Van Gaal after its glory days under the previous boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, Robson said he was already seeing some signs of change.
"When he (Van Gaal) first came into Manchester United, he knew he had to steady the ship because once we lost Alex Ferguson, we did not get into Champions League. He came in and said I want to put a solid foundation into work form so that it's difficult to score against.
"Because of that philosophy it's been a little bit difficult to get free-flowing football like it was under Sir Alex. But he's got that basics there now and I can see Manchester United improve as far as being a bit more attacking
"(But) at the of the day players have to come on board. They are in the entertainment business and have to play attacking and adventurous football and excite the fans. It's up to both players and the manager."
Robson said artificial pitches like the one he launched today were good for young children to learn the basics of the game and for practising in conditions which are hot and in places where torrential rains happen.
"The one thing I say is they are great to train in. When people actually go to play matches, as a player you would always want to play on grass. (However), initiatives like this from recycled tyres is great for children of India," he said.