Robson dismisses rumours and promises revival

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The Independent Football

Sir Bobby Robson yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to Newcastle and vowed to lift the club away from the bottom end of the Premiership.

Robson was astonished when he discovered that rumours he had resigned had swept the country on Tuesday.

When he arrived for a scheduled meeting with chairman Freddy Shepherd yesterday he learnt the club had been inundated with calls about his future, forcing officials to issue a denial after £8.5m was wiped from the share price at one stage.

The former England manager remains determined to steer Newcastle away from the relegation zone after the Magpies failed to register a single win in their first six League games and went out of the Champions' League in the qualifying round.

"The story was outrageous. The spin was tremendous and before you know it it goes all over the world," Robson said.

"This is a great football club, there is no doubt about that. We are a very fine team. You don't lose what you are good at over three years in six matches.

"We have high-quality players and there is a lot of character and resolve and yes, we have had a blip, yes, we haven't won in six games.

"The players give 100 per cent. People have short memories. We agree we've had a poor start but I would remind people that we are still in Europe, we're still in the FA Cup, we're still in the Carling Cup and we haven't been relegated."

Robson said he has been heartened by the attitude of his players, especially after Friday's 3-2 defeat at Arsenal where they twice came from a goal behind before losing to a late Thierry Henry penalty.

And he insisted he maintained his famous enthusiasm for the game. "The players here keep me alive," Robson added. "I get up every day and want to go to work for Newcastle United.

"We know all it takes is a win in the League. Once we get a victory we will be on our way.

"One of the senior players in the dressing room after the Arsenal game said 'if we play like that every week we'll be fourth by Christmas' and that's just what we need to hear from the players.

"We have a small group of senior players but the bulk of the playing staff are young players and can only get better. I see them every day and I know it's in my hands and there's no doubt we need people to be patient and people to be loyal.

"None of this gets under my skin. I'm a tough cookie and though people think I'm nice there's a mean side to me, I think you have to have that to be a manager."

Shepherd had earlier insisted he remains fully behind the man who took the Magpies from the brink of relegation to the First Division four years ago into the Championship race last season.

The chairman said: "Quite simply, Bobby's a Geordie and like all true Geordies he is no quitter.

"And, to slightly misquote what Mark Twain once said, talk about Bobby's demise was grossly exaggerated. Bobby had no idea that we had been inundated with hundreds of calls from late yesterday morning until well into the afternoon.

"He was doing what he is paid to do and what he does best, and that is training his players.

"And when he came in for our usual afternoon conference, he didn't know anything about it and was absolutely flabbergasted to hear what had been going on.

"What is going on is that Newcastle United have a very important game against Southampton on Saturday and that is the main thing on the minds of Bobby and the players at the moment."