Robson: England won't win Euro 2016
There is an air of optimism in some quarters in England that the Three Lions can be serious contenders at next year's European Championship in France.
Four straight wins in Euro 2016 qualifying have placed England six points clear in Group E, and manager Roy Hodgson is hopeful youngsters Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling - touted as England's future - will lead the team to glory.
Former England captain Bryan Robson, however, is under no such illusion.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, the 58-year-old, who featured in three World Cups for England (1982, 1986, 1990), said any championship aspirations for 2016 were "unrealistic".
"Sure, we have a great chance of qualifying, but we won't win it," said Robson, who had 90 caps between 1980 and 1991, making him England's sixth most capped player of all-time.
"As far as I'm concerned, we've yet to come to a situation where we look as if we can win an international honour.
"You look at the Germans and the Spaniards, they always seem to be stronger and they have much more world-class players than we've got.
"A team need around six or seven world-class players to win, and right now we don't have that.
"That's why I just can't see us winning it. But, hopefully, I'm proved wrong."
Robson, who was United's longest serving captain and currently the ambassador for the club, is in town to kick off Courts Megastore's celebration of Singapore's 50th birthday.
The former Manchester United central midfielder, known for his all-round game and leadership qualities, captained his country 65 times, third-most after Bobby Moore and Billy Wright.
He was also well known for being in the record books for 20 years - thanks to a goal he scored after 27 seconds against France in England's opening game of the 1982 World Cup.
It was the fastest goal in World Cup Finals history until 2002, when Turkey's Hakan Sukur scored after 11 seconds in the third-placed play-off against co-hosts South Korea.
Robson said that England's biggest problem is their lack of mental strength.
"What England always do well is qualify comfortably. But in the past three World Cups, they were well below par," he said.
"It begs the question - are the players prepared mentally for the big tournaments? The lads have to work on that.
"The expectations for England are always high, sometimes too high. But you can't use pressure as an excuse because Spain, Germany and Italy deal with the same pressure as well."
One of the well-known reasons for England's recent slide on the international front is the high number of foreign players in the Premiership.
Robson said that the presence of the foreign stars has enhanced the league, but restricted the number of English players from playing regularly, especially at the big clubs.
"It's mostly the forwards who struggle to get a game, though if an Englishman is good enough, like Wayne Rooney, you can still be a leading player," he said.
"I wouldn't change the rules or impose a foreign player restriction, though. That would be detrimental to the league."
WANT TO MEET ROBBO?
Courts Megastore in Tampines will host a fans' meet-and-greet session with Bryan Robson today from 2pm. Registration will begin at 1pm and the first 150 to register will get the chance to meet the legend himself, for an autograph and photo.
"You look at the Germans and the Spaniards, they always seem to be stronger and they have much more world-class players than we’ve got."
- Former England captain Bryan Robson
Fergie-Keane rift can't be repaired
"it’s a shame because they both had fantastic careers at (Manchester) United and worked really well together."
- Robson on the fallout between Alex Ferguson (above) and Roy Keane (below)
They achieved great success at Manchester United and enjoyed a great working relationship at Old Trafford.
Things turned sour between Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane when the former Red Devils manager criticised his former captain in a book published last year.
Keane, well known for his no-nonsense temperament and outspoken ways, blasted his former boss in response.
Now, there is not likely to be any reconciliation between the two, at least according to former United captain Bryan Robson.
Speaking to The New Paper on the sidelines of a press conference at the Courts Megastore yesterday, Robson, now an ambassador for United, doesn't think Ferguson and Keane will ever repair their relationship.
"I don't know how things got so sour between the two," said the former England midfielder, who played under Ferguson at United and was the club's much-heralded "Captain Marvel" during the 1980s and early 90s.
"But I'm sure there won't be any kiss-and-make-up between them. Not those two.
"It's a shame because they both had fantastic careers at United and worked really well together."
On the current United team, 1993 and 1994 Premier League winner Robson said he was confident United would return to their championship-winning ways under Dutchman Louis van Gaal.
But not this season.
The 58-year-old, who is United's longest-serving captain in the club's history - he wore the armband from 1982 to 1994 - reiterated his previous claim that United are not good enough to win the Premiership this season.
"I hope I don't make any Red Devils fans angry, but I'm just being honest when I say that United's title chances for this season are as good as gone," he said.
"Chelsea and Manchester City have a settled squad with good managers, and they've always been the favourites to win the title this season.
"But we're looking like we're improving and we could actually finish in a Champions League position. If we could finish third, that would already be a massive season for Manchester United."
But, come next season, Robson feels that challenging for the title once again will be imperative for the club.
To do that, top-quality signings are the way forward, and Robson believes that is something that van Gaal has got spot-on.
"What I'm pleased about is the fact that van Gaal's made some very good signings in the last transfer window.
"When you look at the signings he made, they definitely improved the team, and that's why we're in fourth at the moment.
"I hope United sign two strong defenders in the summer to strengthen the squad and prepare for a title charge next season. The main problem's been our defence. We have more than enough goals in the team.
"But, then again, I can only see us really improving the team in the off-season.
"It's always difficult to get a real top-class talent in the January window, because players usually move only in the summer."
Unsurprisingly, Robson still gave his stamp of approval to van Gaal, unfazed by the team's inconsistent and unspectacular performances.
"I think he's still trying to find out what system suits his players best. Injuries haven't helped, of course, but I still do believe that he's the right man for the job," he said.
"He's managed at the top and he can continue to manage the pressure like he's always done, no problem.
"If he's got to go out and spend big again, then so be it. He's the right man for us."
Robbo: Thailand can be among Asia's best
Though busy as United's global ambassador, Bryan Robson is still keeping tabs on Asean football.
Robson was Thailand's head coach from 2009 to 2011, and wasn't surprised to see his former charges lift the AFF Suzuki Cup last month.
He attributes the victory to their coach Kiatisuk Senamuang, whom he worked with during his spell with Thailand.
"When I was in charge of Thailand, I had Steve Darby as assistant, but I brought Zico (as Kiatisuk is widely known) in as a coach as well," Robson said.
"I liked what I saw in him; he takes his coaching very seriously.
"When I left the team, I told the Thai FA that he should be my successor.
"I'm not surprised he's doing such a good job now."
Kiatisuk took over the reins last year after Robson's successor, Winfried Schaefer, resigned after two years.
And Robson believes Thailand have what it takes to be among the best in Asia.
"They can compete on an Asian level, but they need more experienced coaches," said the Englishman.
"Thailand have so many talented footballers to choose from. They just need the right coaches to guide that talent."