Graham Taylor was a manager who had tremendous domestic success with Watford and Aston Villa in the English league system but he will always be remembered best for his extremely unsuccessful tenure as England manager between 1990 and 1993. He had big shoes to fill having taken the reigns from Bobby Robson, the man who had just taken England to the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Taylor’s appointment had been heavily criticized by the national media.
Whilst England lost only once in 23 games, they had struggled to qualify for the next major tournament – the 1992 European Championships – scraping through thanks to a last minute goal by striker Gary Lineker against Poland. During the qualification campaign Taylor built a reputation as a manager who would constantly tinker, using a total of 59 players and never having a settled squad. He handed numerous players England caps that other managers and fans perhaps felt were not worthy of selection, the achievement of winning an England cap had become cheapened under Taylor.
He was also reluctance to use talented creative players like Paul Gascogine, much to the dismay of England fans, favouring workhorses who were technically limited but had great strength and stamina. England were eliminated from the 1992 European Championships in the group stages and Taylor’s poor selections and tactics were blamed. The national newspaper started a hate campaign against Taylor which led to him being labelled ‘The Turnip’. Despite his poor performance in the job and the growing discontent amongst fans and the media he kept his job and was tasked with qualifying for the 1994 World Cup in the USA.
Graham Taylor: An Impossible Job is a 1993 Cutting Edge fly-on-the-wall documentary which followed Taylor in his attempts to qualify for the tournament, it gave football fans an unprecedented insight into the inner-workings of the England set up at the time as England ultimately failed to qualify for the tournament.