The Sun’s chief football writer has taken steps to prove to Sir Bobby Robson that he is no coward by meeting the Newcastle United manager at St James’s Park.
As reported in Press Gazette, an article penned by Shaun Custis last month that claimed the Premiership club was rife with internal strife incensed Robson and his players.
Robson complained to The Sun and Custis had to make a special trip to Tyneside to meet the disgruntled Robson just a few hours after filing his match report from Old Trafford, where he had been covering England’s game against Liechtenstein.
“Robson got the serious hump about my report, which said Newcastle needed four dressing rooms to accommodate the various cliques at St James’s Park – so much so, the players wanted to lock me in one of them and sort it out,” Custis said. “He then reckoned I was a clever Dick who had chickened out of their kind offer. That was not true.
I just was not available to be thumped when Sir Bobby wanted me to be. “I will admit to a sigh of relief on meeting with the Newcastle boss to find it was just me and him. “Sir Bobby was in a charitable mood. He had decided, on reflection, that his players would not beat me up.”
Robson said: “You’ll always get a little argy-bargy in any football team, but there is no internal strife. In every club there are small cliques. Some groups like to go out with each other. “The trick is that on Saturday afternoons – and during training in the week – all those players get along and work for a common aim and we have been successful at that.”
Robson’s normally excellent relations with the press have become strained in recent weeks as Newcastle has struggled.
Alan Oliver, who covers the club’s fortunes for the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, said: “Sir Bobby phoned me at home and took me to task for more than an hour about a story I had written that he didn’t like.”