Bryan Robson is to undergo five weeks of radiotherapy treatment in Thailand in his fight against throat cancer, having sought an opinion on the quality of treatment in the country from a specialist in Harley Street.
Robson, who will return later this week to the country where he manages the national side, described for the first time last night how his new career there was thrown into turmoil when discomfort which started out as a sore throat was diagnosed as throat cancer. "I just felt as though I had a sore throat and after a week, thought my glands were swollen, so I went to hospital and they diagnosed a tumour straightaway," he said. "They have treated me [well], have taken the tumour out and given me a course of treatment."
Robson's demeanour in Manchester yesterday – he was tanned and in good humour in a coffee bar at the city's Soccerex forum as he conversed with Denis Law – bore out doctors' assertions that he has responded well to initial treatment and should make a full recovery. "I am confident. It is obviously a concern before you have all the tests, but I have seen a second specialist and the treatment has been good. I will go back to Thailand and just carry on as normal now. I will try to be as positive as I can be. Radiotherapy is good news – if there can be – because it is not chemotherapy."
The former Manchester United captain has firm views on the England captaincy issue. Robson, capped 90 times for England and 65 times as captain, believes that John Terry should never have been stripped of the position in the first place, but that Fabio Capello should not have left Rio Ferdinand to discover his demotion through the media.
"As a coach sometimes you have to take decisions and everybody has to be big enough to take the manager's decision," the 54-year-old said. "At the end of the day, Fabio Capello is the coach and it is his decision who will be the captain. I can see Rio being disappointed, the same as Steven Gerrard. The way he has captained Liverpool, he has every right to be an England captain. I would have been on the phone to the manager asking what is going on about me being dropped as captain. Sometimes when you are a coach or a manager and you make big decisions, it is best to contact whoever has been disappointed and speak to them before it comes out in the media. Then you are not finding out in that way."
There have been echoes in the recent saga of the way that Robson was appointed captain of England at Ray Wilkins' expense. Wilkins, who broke his cheekbone and found himself replaced by Robson, was always captain of United at that time. "He was out for so many games, for both teams," Robson recalled. "Both managers then made the decision they were going to leave me as captain. That was a big disappointment for Ray. But he was told by both managers before it came out into the media. I used to room with Ray. But he is a good honest, sensible lad. He took it in his stride. We still roomed together."