Bryan Robson completed record Man United transfer over Liverpool after West Brom ‘unsettled’ him


Bryan Robson has revealed what made him want to leave West Bromwich Albion and join Manchester United in a blockbuster transfer over 40 years ago.

The ex-England midfielder made 252 appearances for the Baggies before leaving in 1982. He moved to Old Trafford for a then-British record transfer fee of £1.5 million, going on to win two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

In a recent interview, however, Robson suggested that he might have been willing to stay at West Brom had they matched his ambition. In the late seventies the club boasted a talented squad that reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1978, and finished third in Division One and reached the Uefa Cup quarter-finals in 1979 under manager Ron Atkinson.

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Robson believed that the side could reach even greater heights and bring success to the Hawthorns, but rather than keep the squad together the club sold some of their star players. This was disconcerting for the Chester-born player and ultimately led to him wanting to win trophies elsewhere.

“What unsettled me at West Brom is,” Robson told the Quickly Kevin podcast, “we had a really good team in 1978/79 that I thought were really going to go places, but then all of a sudden West Brom sold Laurie Cunningham to Real Madrid and Len Cantello to Bolton Wanderers, who I thought were two of our best players. So that unsettled me, because I wanted to win things in the game.”

Robson also revealed that he could have signed for the wildly successful Liverpool team of the eighties instead, with players from both the Reds and Man United trying to tap him up while on international duty with England. In the end ‘Captain Marvel’ reunited with Big Ron as Liverpool were not willing to match the transfer fee for which Albion were asking.

“When Ron (Atkinson) moved to Manchester United, in the England camp the United lads were saying the club would like to sign me. The lads would see if there is anything there from yourself, and it wasn’t just the United lads.

“Most of the England team was built around the Liverpool squad at that time, so I got very friendly with Terry McDermott. Terry, Phil Neal, Kevin Keegan, all them lot would be saying ‘Liverpool are after you, they’d love you to sign’.

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“You’d get that kind of conversation (in the England camp), but I was contracted to West Brom and at the end of the day (it came down to) who was going to pay the most money for me – and that would be the club that I’d go to.

“From what I heard, Liverpool wouldn’t go above £1.2 million, where Man United went to £1.5 million, and they accepted that. That’s when they allowed Remi Moses and myself to talk to Manchester United.”

Robson returned to West Brom as manager in 2006, 23 years after his departure as a player. In his first season his side defied all the odds to avoid relegation from the Premier League, becoming the first top-flight side to avoid the drop after being bottom of the table on Christmas Day.

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