NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United manager Sir Bobby Robson denied yesterday he would walk out on his struggling English Premiership side.
The club was forced to issue a statement denying they had sacked the 70-year-old after 14 per cent, around six million pounds, was wiped off the value of United on the Stock Exchange.
Chairman Freddy Shepherd denied he was trying to sign Birmingham's Steve Bruce as a replacement.
“It is a load of balls. Sir Bobby Robson has never offered to resign and he has never hinted or discussed the matter of resignation with me,” Shepherd said.
Robson held a showdown meeting with his squad this week and not for the first time demanded that standards improve.
“I've said it before and I'll say it again – there is no need to panic and on the form we showed at Arsenal we will crawl up the league table and we will get respectability,” Robson told the Evening Chronicle. “With a team like ours we should not be in any trouble.”
Newcastle ran Arsenal close last Friday, losing 3-2, but have still to win and bookies have slashed Newcastle's odds on being relegated from 33-1 to 14-1.
“There were plenty of positives to take from the game with Arsenal and we are looking forward to Southampton.”
United go into Saturday's league clash with Southampton desperately needing a win to kick-start their season and lift them away from 19th place in the table, the position in which they were lying when Robson took over from Ruud Gullit in September 1999.
They were destined for Division One but Robson revived their fortunes.
He has spent £65 million on players in the last four years and was praised when Newcastle finished third last season.
But nothing has gone right this season and reports suggest he might be spending another £6 million shortly on Cardiff City's Welsh international central defender Danny Gabbidon, if they can beat Arsenal to the gun.
United have problems at the heart of their defence with Jonathan Woodgate a long-term injury and Titus Bramble continuing to make costly mistakes.
Robson knows there is no margin for any errors in Saturday's crucial match with Southampton at St James' Park when Jamie Beattie and Kevin Phillips will be in town.
United will already be making preparations to stop Phillips, who was a regular scorer at St James' Park in his Sunderland days and who will be playing his last game on Saturday before he starts a three-match suspension. – AFP