Bryan Robson, born on the 11 January 1957, is an English football manager and former player. Born in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, he began his career with West Bromwich Albion in 1972 before making the switch to Manchester United in 1981.
Bryan Robson signed his first professional contract in the summer of 1974, earning £28 per week plus a £250 signing on fee for West Brom. During 1974–75 he was a regular in Albion’s reserve team, but was not selected by Don Howe for the first team. Following Howe’s departure with three matches of the season left, Robson was called up to the senior team for the first time by caretaker manager Brian Whitehouse.
He made his first team debut away at York City on 12 April 1975 at the age of 18, helping Albion to a 3–1 victory. In the following game, his home debut, he scored his first goal for the club, in a 2–0 win over Cardiff City, and also scored in the final match of the season away at Nottingham Forest.
During the following season, 75/76, Robson only played sporadically and couldn’t get a run of games. He faced stiff competition for midfield places, not least from player-manager Johnny Giles, and was utilised by Giles in various positions, including centre-half, left-back and midfield. Albion finished third that season in Division Two and won promotion back to the top-flight.
Robson experienced top-flight football for the first time during the 76/77 season, and began to appear more regularly in the side, although he was still being alternated between the positions of left back and his preferred central midfield role. His rapid ascent was halted however, when he received the first serious injury of his career. Playing at left back, he broke his left leg in a tackle with Tottenham Hotspur striker Chris Jones.
Two months later Robson made his comeback in a reserve game at The Hawthorns, but the original break was refractured in a challenge with Stoke City’s Denis Smith. Again he recovered, and returned to the first team in late December. He went on to enjoy a run in the side and scored his first professional hat-trick, in a 4–0 win against Ipswich Town on 16 March 1977.
One month later however, he broke his right ankle in a challenge with Manchester City’s Dennis Tueart, causing him to pull out of the England U-23 squad following his call-up. Johnny Giles left Albion at the end of 76/77 season. His successor, the club’s chief scout and former player Ronnie Allen, picked Robson to replace Giles in central midfield.
However Allen himself left midway through the season and defender John Wile was put in temporary charge. Results worsened and Robson was dropped from the starting eleven. He returned to the side under new boss Ron Atkinson, whom Robson described as “a down-to-earth, fair-minded, regular bloke”.
Atkinson did leave Robson out of the FA Cup semi-final defeat against Ipswich Town, but recalled him for the latter stages of the league campaign as Albion qualified for the UEFA Cup. In 78/79 Robson was a key player, starting 41 out of 42 league games and wearing the number 7 shirt on each occasion.
He played a major part in Albion finishing third in Division One, their highest league placing for more than 20 years, and reaching the UEFA Cup quarter-finals. The following season was a disappointing one by comparison, with the club finishing only 10th in the league, but Robson’s performances in midfield helped to earn him his first full England cap in February 1980. In 80/81 he scored ten goals in 40 league games to help Albion to a 4th-place finish in the First Division.