Football: Punters back Robson and Beardsley

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The Independent Online
Bobby Robson has joined Kenny Dalglish in the jostle to become manager of Newcastle United, following the sudden resignation of Kevin Keegan.

The 63-year-old former England manager, now coaching Barcelona, was reported to have had a telephone conversation with Newcastle representatives. Speaking on Sky Sports last night, Robson, a native of the North-east, said: "I am on a two-year contract with the biggest and best club in the world and I have to say that I am happy here. My interest is simply to bring success to this club. I have no more to say than that."

However, Joan Gaspart, a Barcelona vice-president, said Robson had told Newcastle that he would prepared to meet them for discussions.

It is believed Newcastle could be interested in teaming Robson up with the Newcastle captain, Peter Beardsley, as his assistant and eventual successor.

Dalglish is still a strong candidate, although it was understood that by yesterday evening he had had no contact with Newcastle since Keegan's resignation. However, it is believed he had had preliminary discussions with the club several weeks ago, when doubts over Keegan's future first emerged.

Robson, a native of the North-east, is finding the going tough in his first season at Barcelona, where the pressure to win the title is even greater than at Newcastle. He and Beardsley worked well together for England and have remained friends. However, against the proposal to pair them at Newcastle are Robson's 15 years out of English club football and Beardsley's inexperience.

Douglas Hall, a Newcastle director and the son of the club's owner, Sir John, and the club's chief executive, Freddie Fletcher, were believed to be abroad yesterday. However, it was not clear whether they had gone to Sir John's holiday home for talks or for meetings with either Robson or John Toshack, whose contract as coach of Deportivo La Coruna runs out in June.

Dalglish's cause is being pushed by his allies, headed by his former Liverpool team-mate, Alan Hansen. "This should not be a time of mourning in Newcastle," he said yesterday. "If they get Kenny as manager he will win them trophies." When Hansen speaks about his friend it is normally with his approval.

Dalglish has just started work for the Rangers chairman, David Murray, but his credentials - championships as manager with Liverpool and Blackburn - remain better than any of his rivals for the post.