If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same...

A Kipling today might have been tempted to add: You'll be a successful football manager. For his words possess a sympathetic ring for England boss Bobby Robson.

He took his battered, depleted England squad off to South America under round condemnation for the manner -- rather than the size -- of a 2-0 Wembley defeat by the Soviet Union. He returned with a balanced record of three games played, one won, one drawn and one lost. Respectable by any light. Doubly so in general, international opinion because of that 2-0 victory over Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

Yet critical echoes accompanied Robson and Co on the long flight home from Santiago because the ensuing displays and results against Uruguay and a dismal Chilean Olympic team didn't match up to the expectations raised in Maracana.

How fickle football -- and in this case, English football can be. Overnight England careered wildly from being international dead-beats to being the "toast of the world game" (as one over-reacting paper put it) and then the slide was quickly set in motion again.

To put into perspective the personal and practical aspects of victory in Rio: 

(1) Bobby Robson could lose all his matches from here to eternity, finish bottom of the World Cup qualifying group and suffer whatever other indignities an unpredictable game can pile up, one will ever be able to take from him the glorious achievement of managing the Team Who Beat Brazil In Maracana for the first time in 27 years.

(2) This was one of the poorest national teams ever to represent the former three time world champions. It was built upon the rocky foundation of two full-backs more interested in their club's South American Cup campaign (Junior and Leandro of Flamengo); upon a jumbled selection of ageing international newcomers from Vasco da Gama and Fluminense -- most of whom had but lately been battling against each other in the Brazilian championship final.

The story of England's tour began long before they left with the 1-1 draw at Hampden Park, a match of historic significance as it brought to a conclusion the last Home International Championship, the oldest international competition of them all. Only this Scotland-England rump remains and Wales and Northern Ireland -- bitterly upset that they'll have to stand on their own financial feet from now on, an appropriately Thatcherite stance -- must look elsewhere for their business.

It's a pity that the Hampden closedown couldn't be a full strength party. England had voluntarily given Liverpool's players the time off to prepare for the Champions' Cup final so the spoils were diplomatically shared in a 1-1 draw. England then returned to Wembley to face the Soviets. It was a symbolic day, on which the deadline for Olympic entries expired. The Soviets not only ignored the fact, they demonstrated their disinterest by selecting against England not the originally-expected Olympic team, but a side mixing Future and Past. With eyes on the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers, manager Eduard Malofeyev added the best of his Olympic team to the experienced side who proved such a let-down both in Spain two years ago and in the European championship run-up.

The match story is easily told. England adhered rigidly to a 4-2-4 system which saw Bryan Robson and Ray Wilkins overrun in midfield. England's defence grew progressively more fragile as time went on and after Mike Duxbury lost his footing in the 52nd minute, Gotsmanov collected Khoren Oganesian's through ball, made off through the middle and shot past Peter Shilton. The Soviets came more and more into their own. Oleg Blokhin developed new menace on the left, Oganesian's delightful touch in midfield made him man-of-the match and m defence the experienced Chivadze and the sure-fingered Renat Dassayev took care of England's occasional sallies upfield.

In the last minute substitute Oleg Protasov scored a second goal after Shilton could only parry a close-range drive from Blokhin and England left for South America a week later with the chorus of "What a load of rubbish" ringing in their ears.

And so to Brazil. Robson bravely stuck with his two wingers and was handsomely repaid with a marvelous goal from John Barnes which so impressed the locals after he raced himself the length of the pitch and through the heart of the Brazil defence to score. No English manager would have tolerated from his defenders the powder-puff, halfhearted rumours of possible tackles which came from Leandro and Co as Barnes drove between them. But, having survived fortunately an early attacking storm, England deserved the victory which was sealed by Mark Hateley's header -- pushed on to the post and in by badly-positioned goalkeeper Roberto Costa.

Uruguay's manager Omar Borras saw the Rio game and took home a single lesson for his South American champions: they should treat England as competitive rivals, not "friendly" opponents. Where Brazil had shied away from the physical aspect, Uruguay went in like tigers.

Brazil wanted to show off to the fans; Uruguay wanted only to win. And win they did thanks to some typical defending - Uruguay have never taken prisoners - and some skilled attacking play, above all from Carlos Aguilera and Wilmar Cabrera. Robson described Uruguay's attack as the best he had seen in his time as England boss. Yet this Uruguay lacked their best player, midfield general Enzo Francescoli, wanted by his Argentine club, River Plate, for a friendly match.

In a matter of a few days, England's balloon had been punctured. Clive Allen's off-target full debut for his country was just one weakness to be underlined. And it was in the realms of the last strike for goal that England fell short in Chile.

The Estadio Naclonal in Santiago echoed to the players' voices. Fewer than 10,000 fans turned out -- and the absentees' judgement may not have been any too faulty. A poor game saw England arrive without their shooting boots and provide little to trouble goalkeeper Roberto Rojas. Even when an awkward bounce provoked him into dropping shots, there was no one on hand to punish him.

England's refreshing attacking schemes, with Mark Chamberlain and John Barnes staying wide, do not provide all the answers. Someone up there must score goals. Paul Mariner or Tony Woodcock, when fit? The promising Hately? The luckless, nervy Allen? Robson has a wide choice. One hopes only that he doesn't destroy the fragile cohesion created on tour by experimenting too wildly. The whirlwind of that philosophy was reaped to the full by Don Revie seven years ago and he chose England's last tour to South America, in 1977, as his departure point.

Robson may have finally "arrived" on this 1984 trip to South America. But, after two years in charge, he well knows the sensations being felt so painfully by Brazil's new manager, Edu.

Edu was named in charge for just the three matches, against England, Argentina and Uruguay, which marked the Brazilian confederation's 70th anniversary. CBF director, Delson Guedes, said that a permanent appointment will not be made until January. Edu, 37, took over a team pillaged by the top Italian clubs in succession to Carlos Alberto Parreira. But he remained coach to championship runners-up Vasco da Gama, who have been among the most prolific scorers this season and whose attacking style had been much admired. 

That is how Edu wants it for the Brazilian team also. He is determined to recapture their flamboyant attacking style which captured the hearts of the world during the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain. The team were then managed by Tele Santana and they crashed out of the tournament against eventual winners, Italy, by going for a win when a draw would have carried them into the semi-finals. Santana took the blame, but now, two years later, Brazilians are just beginning to appreciate his achievements. Edu says: "Tele's 'sin' was to favour attacking soccer, playing for a draw was just against his principles."

Edu is adamant that if he is given the job full-time, he will insist on having the best players, regardless of where they may be playing their club football. He would also, presumably, include his younger brother Zico, now with Udinese in Italy. Managing Zico would be no problem, thought Edu - "It would be easy because, besides being a brilliant player, Zico Is 100 per cent a professional and even if I had to drop him I'm sure he would understand "

Zico isn't the only exile. Batista, Edinho, Dlrceu, Toninho Cerezo, Falcao and now Socrates (at Fiorentina) are all in Italy. At least Eder has signed a £14,000-a-month one-year contract to stay at Atletico Mineiro. But this wasn't much help to Edu for the friendly against Argentina,. since Eder was under a three-month ban.

So, against Argentina, while England were drawing 0-0 in Chile, Edu made six changes to achieve a goalless draw of his own. He dropped Leandro and Junior and goalkeeper Roberto Costa, but there was little improvement. A poor 32,000 crowd in Sao Paulo saw an equally-poor, foul-riddled game and Brazil's Renato and Argentina's Garre were sent off for a punch-up by the ageless Argentine referee Arturo Iturralde.

This article first appeared in the August 1984 edition of World Soccer magazine. Subscribe here.