Football: Captain Marvel milks the applause

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The Independent Online
HE revelled in the sobriquet of Captain Marvel as a player, so what do we call Bryan Robson now he has doubled his workload while continuing to lord it over the rest? Manager of the month will do nicely for starters. Robson is out on his own, with Middlesbrough's opening sequence showing played four, won four, six goals scored, none conceded.

As the player-manager of the Endsleigh League's premier side, Robson has his hands fairly full at the moment but still makes time for alternative employment, and the first international of the season finds him involved as part of Terry Venables' coaching team for England's game with the United States on Wednesday.

Yesterday Robson was working with John Barnes, Alan Shearer and the rest of the country's European Championship hopefuls. This afternoon it is back to the day job and the First Division fixture at Watford. Tomorrow there might be a spare hour somewhere to put his feet up; Monday sees him back wearing his England cap. Mr Perpetual Motion shows no sign of slowing down.

Rather than being concerned that he has taken on too much, the Ayresome Park employers who hired him at great expense from Manchester United are honoured that their manager has an international diversion. And at least the fixture computer has been helpful in sending Middlesbrough to Vicarage Road today, a short taxi ride from the England headquarters at Burnham Beeches.

Victory would establish a new club record of five successive wins at the start of a season, a not unreasonable assumption given Watford's status as the division's first basement side. Or at least they were until Wolves came unstuck there on Tuesday.

Did Graham Taylor not like that, especially at the ground where once there was only happy memories. It was under Taylor that Watford gained a deserved reputation as the club at the forefront of moves to incorporate families into the football community. Today, with the Premiership taking an early-season break, the League are launching their first national family day. Some clubs are part of a kid-for- quid scheme where children under the age of 16 can gain admission for pounds 1, still an attraction even if your chosen team are Colchester, the unfortunates holding everyone else up from the foot of the Third Division.

In another sense it is a notable day for the League, which for the first time since 1981 reverts completely to grass. The home fixture with Lincoln sees Preston North End taking their first steps on a new natural strip, after eight years on the plastic.

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