Tag Archives: Graeme Souness

5 minutes with…. Kevin Davies Part 1

This week I was given the fantastic opportunity via 888sport.com to pose some questions to former Saints striker Kevin Davies.

Davies had two spells at the club sandwiching a big money move to Blackburn Rovers and can perhaps be credited for changing his style of play completely to earn him greater success as he matured.

From ‘that’ goal against Everton to cup final disappointment and what he makes of the van Dijk ‘situation’, Kevin gave us a frank and honest take on the club.

Kevin Davies, spoke exclusively to 888sport.

What do you expect to see from Saints next season, can they compete for a top eight place again for example?

KD ‘There needs to be more signings and it will be interesting to see what happens between now and the end of the transfer window and particularly whether Van Dijk goes and if they have the timescale to reinvest that money. I covered their games for BT last year and yes there was some fans a bit disgruntled with the style of play but I think when you play that many games in Europe, get to a cup final – which they were unlucky to lose – and finish in the top eight that’s a really good season.

You look at the sides above them and it’s going to be difficult to compete with them but they’ve got a really good manager in Pellegrino and they may well play a more attacking style of football now because he always wants his teams to play the right way.”

The fans need to believe in Les Reed and the model they have created down there. I’m a big fan of what they do where they plan for the future. You may question their ambition a little bit and want them to keep their better players but they have the model in place to be ahead of the game whether that is finding the right playing staff or managers. When you look at where they were seven or eight years ago and now they’re going to be in or around that cluster of top eight teams like West Brom, Stoke and Leicester. There is no danger of relegation and they will finish mid-table at least I think.’

Their biggest flaw last season was the lack of goals, how does Pellegrino bring back that spark up front?

KD ‘They’ve got enough options there. We saw flashes of what Gabbiadini is capable of and though he has never been prolific at previous clubs in Italy he looks a real fox in the box. All the strikers have different attributes with the likes of Shane Long and Charlie Austin. Both missed a lot of last season through injury but they’re different kinds of strikers who can cause different kinds of problems for defenders. There is Redmond in there as well so it comes down to the manager and what he sees in pre-season. Whether he plays three up or one or the old-fashioned 4-4-2 there are plenty of attacking options and it’s about settling on a system that clicks. There will be less rotation which is good because the best players want to player every week and that leads to frustration. Shane Long only made ten starts last season so there is frustration there but what that gives a manager is a clean slate. They will all be eager to impress and make that starting line-up and stay there.’

Read the full 888sport interview with Kevin Davies, including his thoughts on where Southampton will finish this season. 

What is your view on the Virgil van Dijk situation?

KD ‘It just seems unsavoury. Clearly the player wants to go and Southampton are taking a stance which they have every right to do as he signed a new contract not so long ago. It needs to be resolved sooner rather later though because it looks inevitable that they’re going to sell him at some point. The club has done really well in the past bringing in players at the right time then selling them on but I know there are a lot of fans – including former players like Matt le Tissier – who would like those players to stay. That is so difficult when the big clubs come calling and maybe it’s the right move to sell him if they triple their money on him. With the model they have at Southampton they will have been planning this for months, years, and will know how best to reinvest that money.’

More to follow…..

 

Thanks to Kevin and 888sport.

Read the full 888sport interview with Kevin Davies, including his thoughts on where Southampton will finish this season.

Chris

Top Ten of Saints Shirts: Part One

Now the season is officially over, and the frustrating rumour mill has already started turning with regards to the future of our players and manager, many will be waiting in anticipation for the reveal of the new Saints kit for next season, especially as it will be the first manufactured by Under Armour. But what have been the best Saints kits over the years?

We caught up with Jon Carney from Classic Football Shirts to give us an outsider’s point of view.

Here are his choices at 10-6….

10. 1999-01 Home Shirt

99_01 Home‘This simple late 90s club designed shirt was famous for closing the final two seasons at the Dell where the club had played since 1898. With subtle touches including special ‘The Dell 1898-2001′ embroidery and a suitably 90s collar this design provides a stylish end to the decade.’

9. 2006-07 Away Shirt

06_07 Away

‘Stylish black number (first ever all largely black away shirt) famous for when a fresh-faced Gareth Bale broke into the Southampton side at the tender age of 16. With some eye-catching performances from the young Welshman the side reached the Championship Play-Off Semi-Finals in ’07. With the classy red and gold Bale #22 Football League printing, this shirt has become something of a collectors piece over the years.’

8. 2013-14 Home Shirt

13_14 Home

‘Adidas debuted their first Saints shirt with this controversial all red number in 2013. The design followed on from the 2012 home shirt which was the first all red design (barring some white pinstripes) since the 1985 Patrick design. Despite the calls of many fans who asked ‘where are our stripes’, added gold detail to the badges and sponsor make this one of the classiest designs in recent years.’

7. 2001-03 Home Shirt

01_03 Home

‘Simple design club-produced home shirt which welcomed in a new era for the side at St Mary’s when James Beattie fought Henry and van Nistelrooy for the golden boot after bagging 23 Premier League goals. The design however is most famously remembered for being worn the day the side said goodbye to the Dell when legendary midfielder Le Tissier scored a late minute volley to secure a stunning 3-2 win against champions elect Arsenal. It doesn’t get more classic than that.’ 

6. 1995-97 Home Shirt

Matthew Le Tissier, Southampton

‘This mid-90s number was far more straightforward than its Pony predecessor, with a classic simple stripe design and a retro collar. Matters were anything but straightforward on the pitch when amateur footballer Ali Dia convinced then-manager Graeme Souness that he was George Weah’s cousin which led to him signing a one month contract. After making just one appearance for the side in this shirt, he was released. Le Tissier later commented, “He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice; it was very embarrassing to watch”.’

So there we have it, a nice selection of strips with some great memories attached, but what will make the top 5? Find out soon….

Check out some classic Southampton shirts here bit.ly/1NGtSxI and tell us which is your favourite?

World Cup of Saints Managers: Quarter Finals

For those of you that have been following, we started with 20 Saints managers past and present (ok, only one present) and now we are down to just eight!

To see the results of the Preliminary Round see here.

The results of the First Round Proper are in:-

Match 1:-

The last man to win a trophy for Saints ousting ex-player Chris Nicholl to progress to the last eight!

Match 2:-

The closest contest of the tournament so far, the ex-England boss claims victory over the ex-Scotland boss!

Match 3:-

It’s the end of the road for Souey, comfortably beaten by the man in the glass and his back to back promotions.

Match 4:-

The current boss and his highest ever Premier League finish is no match for the hapless Stuart Gray. Koeman marches on.

Match 5:-

Pochettino exits faster than you can say ‘translator’ as Lawrie Mac takes the tie of the round!

Match 6:-

What Luggy didn’t want to do here was concede an early sacking….

Match 7:-

Almost a whitewash for Strachan, we contacted him for comment, but he said he had more important things to do. Something about a yoghurt.

Match 8:-

Both men just happy to be involved. Except Pearson he remained angry despite comprehensive win.

So that concludes the First Round Proper. Pardew, Hoddle, Adkins, Koeman, McMenemy, Merrington, Strachan and Pearson will contest the Quarter Finals. Draw Below.

Quarter Final Match 1:-

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Quarter Final Match 2:-

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Quarter Final Match 3:-

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Quarter Final Match 4:-

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So that concludes the draw for the Quarter Finals! Who will make the last four? Voting concludes tomorrow at 1400.

World Cup of Saints Managers

As far as jumping on the bandwagon goes, this is as shameless as it gets….

Seemingly started by Richard Osman of Pointless fame with his ‘World Cup of Chocolate, using the new twitter poll feature as a way of deciding who or what is the best at something in a Knockout competition is a bit a of harmless fun that has now been replicated for all sorts of subjects.

I decided to start my own ‘World Cup’ (although in retrospect it should be FA Cup) of Saints Managers.

This is just for fun. It doesn’t really decide anything, and based on the demographic of Twitter I only went back to Lawrie McMenemy (one of the clear favourites).  I also only included those who were permanent managers. Except I forgot Steve Wigley. Sorry Steve.

Here is the Entry List and their draw number:-

  1. Alan Ball
  2. Alan Pardew
  3. Chris Nicholl
  4. Dave Jones
  5. Dave Merrington
  6. George Burley
  7. Glenn Hoddle
  8. Gordon Strachan
  9. Graeme Souness
  10. Harry Redknapp
  11. Ian Branfoot
  12. Jan Poortvliet
  13. Lawrie McMenemy
  14. Mark Wotte
  15. Mauricio Pochettino
  16. Nigel Adkins
  17. Nigel Pearson
  18. Paul Sturrock
  19. Ronald Koeman
  20. Stuart Gray

I entered the numbers into an online random draw generator https://www.daftlogic.com/projects-cup-fixture-generator.htm and the fixtures were set.

As there were 20, this meant a preliminary round for eight of the managers. Here are the fixtures:-

Preliminary Round Match 1:-

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A MASSIVE first tie out of the hat!

Vote here:-

Preliminary Round Match 2:-

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Preliminary Round Match 3:-

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Preliminary Round Match 4:-

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So that concludes the draw for the Preliminary round. Who will make it to the First Round Proper?

Voting closes at 1400 today (27/01/2016).

 

Twenty Questions: Egil Østenstad

After relentless pursuing of Saints and Ex-Saints on twitter, I managed to get one of my favourites!

Former Saints striker Egil Østenstad wowed the Dell between 1996 and 1999, scoring some great goals and being part of that famous 6-3 victory over Manchester United in which he bagged a hat-trick (he doesn’t care what the dubious goals panel says, he’s got the match ball!).

So here it is 20 questions with Egil Østenstad!

Egil Østenstad. 109 Saints appearances. 33 Saints goals.
Egil Østenstad. 109 Saints appearances. 33 Saints goals.

1. Best Saints Memory?Among a lot of great ones; staying in the Premier League in my first season after being in desperate trouble. Great feeling. Also being voted Player of the season that same season, and scoring in front of the The Kop on my first visit to Anfield.’

2. Worst Saints memory? ‘Not being able to sort out a new and longer contract with Rupert Lowe.’

3. Favourite Manager?  ‘I will always be very grateful towards Graeme Souness for giving my the chance to come to Southampton and the Premier League. At Southampton, in his eyes, I never did anything wrong. At Blackburn I never did anything right…’

4. Least favourite Manager?Even though results were decent I thought Dave Jones had an old school approach to the game and a managerial outlook that I found difficult to like.’

5. Most talented team mate? ‘Le Tiss was the biggest British talent of his generation when it comes to pure football. His willingness to make the most out of his talent is a different story. Eyal Berkovic was a joy to play with.’

6. Biggest prankster in the dressing room?  ‘Jim Magilton. Busy man…’

7. The Dell or St. Mary’s?  ‘For me The Dell.  I only played against Southampton at St Mary’s.’

8. Which member of the current team impresses you most? ‘Adam Lallana. Not just because of his ability. More so because of his attitude, loyalty and being a great ambassador for Saints.’

9. Hardest team mate?  ‘Ulrich van Gobbel. Monster…’

10. Any Fratton Park abuse while playing for other clubs? ‘Loads whilst playing for Blackburn. Quite enjoyed that and scored the winning goal (0-1) on my first visit there. Great stuff!’

11. Derby Day memories? ‘Portsmouth were nearly as bad then as they are now when I was there.’

12. Toughest opponent? ‘Martin Keown.’

13. Favourite Away Ground?  ‘Anfield.’

14. Favourite Saints kit? ’97/98 season Home shirt.’

15. Ever had a Benali curry? Loads. Very good actually!’

16. Best friends from Saints days? ‘I appreciate the fact that I have met and occasionally spoken to Jason Dodd, Le Tiss, Franny Benali, Jim Magilton and Gordon Watson in the last years. I sometimes speak to Claus Lundekvam. It was a good group of players when I was there.’

17. Money in football. Gone too far or great for the game? ‘Too far. I really hope the rules of financial fair play will have the desired effect. Football is turning into too much of a toy for the wrong reasons.’

18. Pace or skill? ‘Average pace and average skill…’

19. Where will Saints finish this season? ‘Top 10. Which is a great achievement!’

20. And finally, you are stranded on Hayling Island (Portsmouth) what luxury item would you like to keep you sane? Access to Spotify…’

….and a bonus question just for you as we have the same taste in music.

21. What song do you think best fits the Saints experience? ‘Smells like teen spirit…’

Many thanks to Egil for taking the time to answer these questions!

Chris

 

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Apologies for the brief hiatus! I have been working on other projects in both football and my real job. Hopefully this will be the return of regular posts!

As speculation increases as to the future of Nigel Adkins and the comparisons being made of him via social media and such I thought I would compare him to previous Saints Premier League managers the only fair way. Over their respective first 9 games in charge….

Ian Branfoot –  1992/93 season.

P9 W 1 D 4 L 4 F 7 A 11 P 7

Branfoot, like Adkins took until his fifth game to register a win, but had a relatively good start to his first Premier League campaign, picking up points in more games than not.

End result – Finished 18th of 22 in the Premier League, just one point from safety, Sacked in January 1994.

Alan Ball – 1993/94 season.

P9 W 4 D 3 L 2 F 10 A 12 P 15

Ball proved an instant hit at The Dell resotring Matt Le Tissier to the team and going on a great run.

End result – Finished 18th of 22 in the Premier League, just one point from safety (they were 21st when Ball took over). Left the club in the summer of 1995 after a great season finishing 10th.

Dave Merrington – 1995/96 season.

P 9 W 1 D 3 L 5 F 8 A 16 P 6

Whispering Dave was seemingly the players choice when he was appointed in 1995. He took four games to notch his first victory and it was a sign of things to come.

End result – Finished 17th of 20 in the Premier League on goal difference. Sacked that summer.

What I’d like to see Adam, is Saints to score more goals than the opposition..

Graeme Souness – 1996/97 season.

P 9 W 1 D 3 L 5 F 11 A 13 P 6

The fiery Scot promised to be a polar opposite change in management style from Merrington, but had a similar opening to the season. It took Souness until hi 8th game in charge to get 3 points, and despite some flamboyant foreign signings Saints struggled.

End result – Finished 16th of 20 in the Premier League, just one point from safety. Resigned that summer.

Dave Jones – 1997/98 season.

P 9 W 1 D 1 L 7 F 5 A 17 P 4

Dave Jones came to the club from the lower leagues and it was his first taste of management in the top flight. He struggled to put his stamp on the team at the start and people wondered if he had been a poor choice.

End result – Finished 12th of 20 teams, eight points from safety. Followed it with a season finishing 17th (though five points from safety) before being replaced in January 2000 after (unfounded) allegations of child abuse.

Glenn Hoddle – 2000/01 season.

P 9 W 5 D 1 L 3 F 6 A 6 P 16

Former England boss Hoddle came in while Jones was on “leave of absence” to prepare his defence. He had a fantastic start, winning his first five games in charge. In terms of a combination of results and style of play, Hoddle is still for me the best manager of my time supporting Saints.

End result  Saints finished 10th of 20 teams (they were 12th when he took over), and consolidated that the following season though Hoddle left for Spurs in March 2001.

Moving to Spurs was a poor choice…

Stuart Gray – 2001/02 season.

* – Only judged on games in full charge.

P 9 W 2 D 0 L 7 F 5 A 17 P 6

Stuat Gray was promoted from the backroom staff to caretaker manager when Hoddle left and was given the job permanently in the summer. Despite breaking the club’s transfer record Gray struggled for results.

End result. Gray was sacked on the 21st October with the club lying in 19th of 20 of the Premier League.

Gordon Strachan – 2001/02 season.

P 9 W 3 D 1 L 5 F 13 A 16 P 10

Serious question marks were raised when Strachan was appointed after he had eventually relegated Coventry City, but Saints immediately started to look more resilient.

End result. Saints finished 12th of 20 (they were 19th when he took over) and followed it in 2002/03 by finishing 8th and reaching the FA Cup final. He resigned in February 2004 with the club sitting 11th in the table.

Paul Sturrock – 2003/04  season.

P 9 W 4 D 1 L 4 F13 A 13 P 13

Luggy came in to replace his fellow Scot, but never seemed to fit in at the club.

End result. Saints finished 12th of 20, the same position as when he took over. He was sacked in the summer after rumours of player unrest.

And the award for best ‘Dressing room loser’ goes to…

Steve Wigley – 2004/05 season.

* – Only judged on games in full charge.

P 9 W 1 D 2 L 6 F 6 A 12 P 5

Steve Wigley was a highly unambitious appointment from within for the club who were possible already struggling financially behind the scenes. Fans were right to doubt him.

End result. Sacked in December 2004 with Saints in 18th place of 20.

Harry Redknapp – 2004/05 season.

P 9 W 1 D 3 L 5 F 11 A 17 P 6

Redknapp came in controversial circumstances having just left Portsmouth, but fans can be forgiven for thinking he was the man to turn the team around. Sadly they were mistaken, poor signings, inept tactics and the demeanour of a man who wasn’t really interested was what they got.

End result. Saints finished 20th of 20 and were out of the top flight for the first time in 27 years. Returned to Portsmouth in December 2005 with Saints 12th in the Championship.

Time to grit teeth and dig in?

Nigel Adkins – 2012/13 season.

P 9 W 1 D 1 L 7 F 14 A 26 P 4

Nigel has obviously had a damaging start to life in the top flight, but has a very similar results record to Dave Jones who turned it around and got a decent league finish. He has had a worse start than Branfoot, Gray, Sturrock, Wigley and Redknapp, but I wonder how many Saints fans would want them back?

It is still too early to tell just what sort of Premier League manager Adkins will turn out to be, as these openings of other managers prove.

End result. Who knows, but while Adkins is in charge we must back him.

Chris

A Saint Amongst Them: Leeds United

Top of the table Saints head to West Yorkshire on Saturday to take on Leeds United in front of the cameras, and not only will there likely be a former Saints player on the Elland Road’s sides bench, but also a Saints fan….

Maik Taylor

The German born, Northen Ireland international goalkeeper Taylor started his semi-professional footballing career while still serving in the British Army. Stationed in Hampshire he represented Petersfield and Basingstoke Town’s respectively before joining Farnborough Town where he was part of the team that won the Southern League Premier Division in 1994.

It was while playing for the now defunct club that he was spotted by League Two Barnet and was given his first professional contract. His performances at Underhill soon meant he was destined for greater things, and just a season and a half later he was heading back to Hampshire and the Premier League.

Graeme Souness was the man who took the gamble on the lower league keeper, signing him in the January of 1997 for a fee of £500k. He replaced the ageing Dave Beasant and soon had the fans on his side with some impressive shot stopping, representing the club he had supported as a child. Saints fans finally felt like they had their replacement for Tim Flowers, albeit somewhat late.

Maik Taylor in international action.

Sadly for Taylor, Souness was to leave in the summer, and despite Taylor’s proficient displays the Scotsman’s replacement Dave Jones bought his namesake and number one from Stockport County with him.

Paul Jones was immediately installed as first choice and Taylor had to make do with a place on the bench, a victim of a rare season in Saints history where they had two good stoppers in one season! Taylor headed for Kevin Keegan’s Fulham on 17th November 1997 for £800k, surprisingly dropping to the second division. After nearly 200 appearances for the Cottagers and two league titles he moved on to Birmingham City. He also established himself as the first choice goalkeeper for Northen Ireland gaining 88 caps between 1999 and 2011.

He signed for Leeds United in Novemeber 2011 and recently had his contract extended to the end of the season, now aged 40.

Chris

15 years ago today…

A lot was made of Manchester United’s 6-1 reverse to their arch rivals City at the weekend, and it was the first time the Premier League giants had conceded six goals in a game in fifteen years.

Fifteen years to this very day in fact.

Then Saints manager Graeme Souness had had an indifferent start to the 1996/97 season, but headed into the game on the back of two straight home wins against Middlesbrough and Sunderland. These were the only victories of the season so far though. Both had been impressive, Saints scoring four and three goals against their North East opponents respectively without reply. The new look attacking lineup of Eyal Berkovic, Le Tiss and Egil Ostenstad proving potent.

The visit of the champions was likely to be a different prospect. United themselves came to the Dell having lost their last league game 5-0 at St. James Park, though they did have a midweek victory over Swindon Town inbetween.

Many feared a backlash from United, and the thought of Beckham, Scholes, Cantona et al taking on the likes of Richard Dryden and Alan Neilsen at the back, not to mention unproven new boy Claus Lundekvam was not one for the feint hearted.

Souness made his selections with the attacking prowess of the champions in mind, Jason Dodd, Ulrich Van Gobbel and Simon Charlton, all recognised defenders joined the aforementioned trio in the starting lineup, Matthew Oakley and Berkovic played in the middle, with Le Tissier supporting Ostenstad up front.

Alex Ferguson also named an interesting side, with Cantona the only recognised out and out forward in his lineup.

Having witnessed the 3-1 victory the previous season, I don’t think for a second it crossed my mind that we could win again, let alone what was about to unfold.

It will truly go down as one of the defining moments of the Premier League, and certainly one of the best ever games.

Amongst the furore of the aftermath of the City result at the weekend, it is worth noting, that United went on to retain the title in 1996/97 and by a clear seven points. It also interesting that the only player who could have played in both games fifteen years apart, United talisman Ryan Giggs played in neither.

It wasn’t the first, or last time Saints were a thorn in Ferguson’s side, let’s hope there is more to come….

Southampton:- Beasant, Dodd, Neilson, Dryden, Lundekvam, Van Gobbel, Charlton, Berkovic, Oakley, Le Tissier, Ostenstad Unused Subs:- Potter, Magilton, Watson

Man Utd:- Schmeichel, G. Neville, P. Neville, May, Pallister (Irwin), Keane, Butt (McClair), Scholes, Beckham, Cruyff (Solskjaer), Cantona

Chris

The Worst Manager England (Almost) Never Had…

The other night, I decided to run a little competition to get myself to 500 followers on twitter, the reward for being my 500th follower (other than a daily intake of my wittiest and fascinating 140 character world insights) was that I would write a piece on here that would revolve around the supported club of the new follower.

Unfortunately, rather like Chris Iwelumo on an international debut, I took my eye off the ball. This meant I wasn’t sure if Brighton fan @Mareschappie or Southend fan @CallumReavelll was number 500, so I sensibly did, the only thing I could do, I bravely declared that I would write a piece that involved both clubs. Now, I wanted this piece to have a positive spin for both clubs, otherwise, what kind of prize is that?

This proved to not be easy. The two clubs, while both rich with individual history don’t seem to have any mutual heroes, neither do they share any years where both achieved something of note. Then I hit upon somebody who achieved something with both clubs, and what’s more, a man who is well known throughout English football and in my opinion, the worst manager England never had….

You often hear Brian Clough described as “The greatest manager England never had”, his achievements in club football are as well known as they are remarkable, and the decision not to employ him as the boss of the national team after interviewing him in 1977 is one that often makes people wonder what might have been. Clough’s assistant Peter Taylor was also revered for the job he did with Derby County and could have followed “Ol big head” to Lancaster Gate had the FA seen differently. Another Peter Taylor came even closer to the three lions dugout, in fact he was in it once, but what now seems implausible, he was also interviewed for the England job full time in 2006, and not just as assistant.

Peter John Taylor started his career at Southend United, near to his home town of Rochford, Essex. A winger by trade, Taylor was a pivotal part of the Shrimpers side that won promotion from the fourth division in 1971/2, and was soon catching the eye of bigger clubs. Taylor went on to play for Crystal Palace and Spurs at the peak of his career and gained four England caps, the first of which he gained while still playing in the third division at Selhurst Park, but it is as a manager that Taylor is mainly remembered.

Peter Taylor as an England Player

Taylor did his managerial apprenticeship in non-league football with Dartford, where he spent four years with much success. Southern cup winners twice (denied a third in the 1990 final) and two Southern league championships saw Taylor sought after by his former club Southend. Taylor took the reigns at Roots Hall in 1993 and would last just sixty six games. He suffered that unfortunate turn of fortunes, going from fans favourite for his exploits on the pitch to hate figure for his fortunes off it. For further examples see Souness, Graeme and Gunn, Bryan. Taylor’s Southend tenure was described in the clubs own history records as “disastrous” and he was soon on his way back to the non-league with Dover Athletic.

In what must have been a bizarre turn of events for the Southend fans, Taylor was only with the Kent club for two months, before being appointed as manager of the England U21’s as part of Glenn Hoddle’s new staff. It was the subsequent period with Englands “young lions” that for me, Taylor’s reputation and all future job offers were based on. He carved a persona as good man manager who the players liked and had a decent record, losing just twice in nineteen competitive games during his time at the helm. The likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen and Emile Heskey were brought into the setup by Taylor, and became four of the eleven to make the step up to the full squad under his guidance. Actually his replacement by Howard Wilkinson in June 1999 was controversial at best, and for seemingly no reason other than moving Hoddle’s men out.

In what was now becoming a commonplace feature of Taylor’s managerial career he yo-yo’d all the way down to the second division with Gillingham, proving his England U21 succeses were no fluke, taking the Gills to playoff glory at the first attempt. Leicester City, hot from several years of success under Martin O’Neill, including a League Cup win and european football decided to appoint Taylor in 2000. For many people this is where he got found out. He started well, but soon the performances tailed off. Dressing room unrest amongst senior players Steve Walsh and Tony Cottee coupled with a poor start to the 2001/02 season and gaining a reputation with the Filbert Street faithful for poor transfer dealings (Taylor spent £23 million in his time at Leicester, including £5 million for Ade Akinbiyi, £3 million for James Scowcroft and £1.5 million for Trevor Benjamin) saw Taylor sacked and destined never to manage in the top flight again (to date).

During his spell at Leicester, Taylor did however have perhaps his finest hour. After the resignation of Kevin Keegan as England manager in October 2000, the FA needed someone to take the reigns for a friendly against Italy in Turin. Taylor didn’t mess around and decided to use his opportunity to put his own stamp on proceedings, turning to many of his U21 stalwarts, Rio Ferdinand, Gareth Barry, Jamie Carragher, Seth Johnson, Emile Heskey and Keiron Dyer. He also handed David Beckham the England captaincy for the first time. England lost the tie 1-0, but it would be the start of a long international career for many of those players and notably a renaissance for the newly crowned skipper.

For keeps....

Taylor, wounded from his experiences at Leicester, but also strangely bouyed by his chance with the national team, ended up on the South Coast with Brighton & Hove Albion. Here he proved again, that getting a club promoted from one of the lower divisions was not difficult for him, as he guided the Seagulls to top spot in the second division. This may have been the start of something special for Taylor, but he left at the end of the season, claiming “lack of financial resources” as his reason. He was soon back in football though, back in the basement division with Hull City. An attractive prospect for Taylor, soon to be moving into their new stadium and serious financial backing meant he could soon work his promotion magic, getting the Tigers from Division three to Division one in three seasons.

During his time at the KC stadium, the FA came calling again, and Taylor took on the U21’s as a part time role. It didn’t go quite as well in his second spell, though competitively results were good. James Milner was the young star, as England again came close in the European championships. Taylor’s achievements at Hull had been noted by his former club Crystal Palace and they took him on to lead them to promotion from the Championship and around the same time, Sven Goran Eriksson left his role as England manager. Taylor confirmed in an interview with the Independent that he had been interviewed for the vacant position and life must have seemed pretty rosy. Unfortunately for him, he did not get the job, and the shake up meant he was relieved of his duties with the young lions too. If that wasn’t a bad enough chain of events, form at Palace dipped dramatically and with the possibility of relegation a very real one, Taylor was sacked.

Unsuccessful spells at conference side Stevenage Borough and League Two Bradford City sandwiched another lower league promotion with Wycombe Wanderers.

So is Taylor the worst manager England never had? Despite being the one of the most qualified coaches in the country, his managerial record is up and down. Somewhat of an expert at getting sides promoted from the lower divisions, quite what the FA saw in him as a top level manager is beyond me. A man manager? His 96-99 U21 side would say yes, his 2000 Leicester side would beg to differ. A tactician? Supporters of his lower league promotion sides would say so, those of his higher level clubs would not.

Luckily for us, the FA chose not to employ the Englishman with no great success record behind him, and opted for Steve McClaren, and we all know how that turned out….

Swings & Roundabouts?

Chris