Do I not like that
Graham Taylor was a former Football manager of Watford, Aston Villa, Wolves and England. He was also Chairman of Watford Football Club, having formerly been a football pundit, ex-football manager, and a former player. He was best known as the manager of the England national football team from 1990 to 1993, as well as being manager of Watford, a club he took from the Fourth Division to the First in the space of five years, then from bottom of the second division to the Premier League in two seasons two decades later.
His success at Watford was respected by the whole of football managing them through to the first division with terrific support and backing from the then Watford Chairman Elton John who said of Taylor ‘He was like a brother to me. We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever. He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to unchartered territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius. I love you Graham’.
Taylor grew up in the industrial steel town of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, a town with which he still has many connections and regards as his hometown. The son of a sports journalist with The Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph, Graham found his love of football in the stands of the “Old Show Ground” watching Scunthorpe United. He became a footballer, playing at full back for Grimsby Town and Lincoln City.
He retired as a player through injury in 1972, becoming a manager and coach, winning success with Lincoln, Watford and Aston Villa. He succeeded in rescuing and achieving promotion with all three clubs, leading Watford and Aston Villa to runners-up positions to Liverpool F.C in 1983 and 1990 respectively, while leading Watford to an F.A Cup Final in 1984 losing to Everton 2-0. In 1990, he became the manager of the England team, but resigned in November 1993, after failing to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States. Graham was criticised personally and professionally by the English Press during his failed tenure. This included substituting England captain Gary Linekar in the players last match for his country in a must win game against Sweden in 1992 Euro championships. Taylor maintained his decision was ‘purely a football one’ nothing personal. Yet press speculated there had and is a rift between the two, even today. Gary Linekar described him as ‘An outstanding manager, lover of football and thoroughly decent man’. Some maybe surprised at this comment but Linekar followed up by saying ‘Why? Because he subbed me in one game? He made me his England captain and I will be eternally grateful to him for giving me that honour’.
At that time, some of the handlines were extremely personal in nature and many felt it had been over the top. But Graham faced even more uproar when a documentary, which filmed the failed qualifying campaign, aired in 1994. He was heard to utter the words “Do I not like that”, when England conceded a goal to Poland, and it became a national catchphrase. He was also filmed berating the German linesman during the controversial and crippling defeat to the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier. The documentary also showed the immense pressure and spotlight someone is under as England football manager. Alan Shearer said ‘I Always held him in the very highest regard – the man who gave me my first England cap’.
Lawrie McMenemy, who Taylor made his assistant when becoming England manager said ‘He was a good, solid football man but, most importantly, a good family man …. he would help people, and it is a very sad day … McMenemy also believed ‘He was ahead of his time in a lot of ways. He actually brought in a psychologist at one stage, which was a bit of joke with some of the players, but now tell me a club that hasn’t got at least one around?’
Graham returned to club management in March 1994, with Wolves (1994 – 1995), before going back to Watford again (1996 – 2001) and achieving more success. The club was promoted to the Premier League in 1999, after slipping back down the leagues after Taylor’s departure 12 years earlier. After Watford Graham retired and became a media pundit, but was lured back to manage Aston Villa again, who he returned to in 2002. Dion Dublin former Villa player said ‘He was a very, very, funny man. When I played under him, he taught me so much. He was very understanding of people’s situation. He had my utmost respect and was a pal as well as a manager’. However, he left at the end of the 2002–03 season, having managed Villa for fifteen months, because of differences with the Board. Since leaving Aston Villa, Graham resumed his media career he began when he “retired” the first time as well as running the 2004 London Marathon to raise money for SENSE. Prior to his acceptance of the Aston Villa job, he was contracted to BBC Radio 5 Live and was a member of the ITV Sport team covering the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan and Korea. Taking up where he left off, he worked for both ITV and Radio 5 during Euro 2004 and wrote a regular column for The Daily Telegraph. He also pitted his wits against Sir Bobby Robson in SKY One’s TV series “The Match” (2004 – 2005). Graham managed and trained a group of celebrities who confronted a team of ex-premiership legends under the guidance of Bobby Robson at St. James Park. One of those celebrities was comedian Terry Alderton who played in goal in the first match and receiving Taylor’s wrath for turning up late to a training session.
He died on January 12th 2017, aged 72 from a suspected heart attack.
Graham Taylor’s managerial record
Lincoln City (1972-77) – Youngest person to become an FA coach, at the age of 27 – won Fourth Division title in 1976.
Watford (1977-1987) – Led team from Fourth Division to First Division in five years (W244, D124, L159)
Aston Villa (1987-1990) – Took over when Villa had been relegated to Second Division. Took them back to top flight at his first attempt. Finished runners-up to Liverpool in his third season in charge (W65, D35, L42)
England (1990-1993) – Failed to progress beyond group stage of Euro 92 or qualify for World Cup in 1994 (W18, D13, L7)
Wolves (1994-1995) – Resigned after one full season in charge (W37, D27, L24)
Watford (1996-2001) – Won Division Two title in 1998 and Division One play-off final in 1999 (W104, D80, L91)
Aston Villa (2002-2003) – Finished 16th in Premier League before retiring (W19 D14 L27)
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.