Football: Save our Shearer, begs Robson

Watford 1 Newcastle United 1

HARDLY A week goes by in our national game without the media being blamed for irresponsibility. But at Watford on Saturday, something very strange happened: the elder statesman of English football pleaded with the press to put the fans in their place.

Whether Bobby Robson's post-match tirade in defence of Alan Shearer was an impromptu heart-felt outburst or a calculated piece of media manipulation is open to question. It was certainly impressive in its intensity and showed, as if we didn't know already, how much Robson cares about the game he has graced for a good part of his 66 years. But will it work?

"Why are the fans turning on him with foul and abusive language?" asked Robson in a passionate condemnation of those who scream abuse at the Newcastle and England centre-forward at grounds up and down the country. "It doesn't happen to anyone else and it's distasteful and sad. Why do we attack our sporting heroes like that? Alan isn't bothered by it but I have to stand up for him."

Robson continued: "If you write that the abuse is abysmal, you just might get through to the people who do it." A laudable suggestion by the former England manager but a rather naive one. The power of the press has its limits.

Changing overnight the warped mentality of a foul-mouthed section of our football public is pushing it, even for someone who commands universal respect, as Robson does.

He was overlooking something else as well. Some of the very scribes to whom he was pouring out his feelings have been just as culpable when it comes to heaping scorn on the England captain. The language may not be as filthy and unprintable as some of the choice expletives dished out at Vicarage Road on Saturday, one of which Robson repeated several times in his press conference and all of which were inexcusable, but the motive is the same.

Whether Robson likes it or not, there are many who, legitimately, believe that Shearer, since he has come back from injury, no longer presents the same danger to defences and is being given preferential treatment by Kevin Keegan, the England coach. That is free speech. What matters, of course, is the way you express it and in what circumstances.

Certainly, the way Shearer played on Saturday did not merit the torrent of abuse that rained down from the stands and gave the good folk of Hertfordshire, normally the most friendly and tolerant of supporters, a bad name. He was not as brilliant as Robson made out but he led the line with commitment and intelligence and headed against the post in the first half.

Robert Page, who needed to be at his best to limit Shearer's scoring opportunities, sympathised with the England captain's plight. "I heard what the fans were chanting and I'm just pleased Alan didn't take it out on us," said the Watford captain.

Newcastle were stunned into silence when Michel Ngonge, clearly offside, headed home, but their spirits were lifted six minutes later when Nikolaos Dabizas scored his first goal of the season, a right-foot snap shot off the far post.

Goals: Ngonge (53) 1-0; Dabizas (59) 1-1.

Watford (4-3-3): Chamberlain; Cox, Page, Palmer, Robinson; Hyde, Miller, Easton (Bakalli, 45); Noel-Williams, Ngonge (Wooter, 63), Gravelaine. Substitutes not used: Day (gk), Gibbs, Smith.

Newcastle United (4-1-3-2): Harper; Hughes, Marcelino, Dabizas, Pistone; Dumas; Lee, Speed, Maric; Gallacher (Ketsbaia, 8), Shearer. Substitutes not used: Karelse (gk), Solano, Glass, Antunes.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

Bookings: Watford: Noel-Williams, Palmer. Newcastle: Marcelino, Lee.

Man of the match: Page

Attendance: 19,539.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam