Graham Taylor: England National Team Manager (1990/1993)
In his first full year in charge, Taylor would step up on the experimentations and would award caps to many players.
First up was a friendly vs. Cameroon on February 6th at Wembley. It was a rematch of the classic Quarterfinal from the last World Cup.
Many had expected to see the Cameroon veteran Roger Milla to play. But he refused to appear after a row over the match bonus. He believed most of the attendance was due to his appearance and wanted a larger appearance fee, which was refused.
As for Taylor, the match marked the return of skipper Bryan Robson. In addition, Taylor deciced to make David Seaman as the starting goalkeeper as Arsenal were having a magnificent season with Seaman in the net.
He also gave a first cap to Crystal Palace striker Ian Wright.
The match was won (2-0) by the English with Lineker netting twice (once on a penalty kick).
The rematch with the Republic of Ireland took place on March 27th at Wembley. Paul Gascoigne was unavailable but Tony Adams was back after his legal woes and had earned his way back into the squad.
England were expected to win at home, but Jackie Charlton’s Irish were extremely difficult to beat. England took the lead early in the 9th minute through Lee Dixon, but the Irish tied up the match in the 27th minute through Niall Quinn.
Photo From: World Soccer, August 1991(Graham Taylor during a training session with England National team)
Despite the introduction of the Manchester United debutant Lee Sharpe in the second half, England could not find a way and had to once again settle for a (1-1) tie with the Irish.
Taylor described it as his most disappointing day as a Manager since they did not win. He considered it a point lost.
Ireland Manager Jackie Charlton dismissed England’s tactics as nothing more than typical British kick and rush, he said ‘they were doing exactly what we do, two men wide and started knocking the ball behind the full backs’.
Around this time, one of the biggest criticisms of Taylor was about his refusal to select Chris Waddle. He had been having an excellent season with his French club Olympique Marseille and was considered one of the best players in Europe that season. He would help Marseille reach the Champions Cup Final but Taylor would choose to ignore him.
The next qualifier was vs.,Turkey at Izmir on May 1st. Once again the English were missing Paul Gascoigne. Arsenal striker Alan Smith was recalled to National Team duty after an excellent season. Taylor gave first caps to Chelsea’s Dennis Wise and Crystal Place’s Geoff Thomas.
He would be rewarded as Wise broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute and give England the victory. But otherwise, it had been yet another disappointing display that pleased neither the fans nor the critics.
In fact fans insulted Taylor and called for the inclusion of Waddle.
That end of the season would be a busy one for the National Team. An end of the season Tournament (England Challenge Cup) featuring guests Argentina and the Soviet Union would be followed by a Tour of Asia and Oceania.
Unfortunately tragedy struck the fortunes of the English team with the horrific injury to Paul Gascoigne during the FA Cup Final between his club Tottenham Hotspur and Nottingham Forest on May 14th, 1991. His early match injury would rule him out indefinitely from the game and hurt England’s chances by robbing them of their star player. It was not known at the time but he would miss the entire following season. He was in the process of joining Italian club Lazio and the injury delayed his departure for a year.
On May 21st, England took on the Soviets in the England Challenge Cup at Wembley with Mark Wright captaining his Nation for the first time. England were victorious (3-1) with an Alan Smith goal and a double strike from Platt (one from the penalty spot). Leeds United midfielder David Batty made his debut for England, coming on as a substitute.
A few days later on May 25th , England hosted Argentina at Wembley. England took a two-goal lead through Lineker and Platt, but Argentina stormed back to tie the match with two headed goals from corners. Nottingham Forest Manager Brian Clough’s son Nigel made his debut for England as a second half substitute.
Photo From: World Soccer, July 1991(Graham Taylor)
Next England flew to Australia to face the hosts at Sydney on June 1st. Taylor awarded debuts to Sheffield Wednesday striker David Hirst and Crystal Palace’s John Salako. England were victorious (1-0) through an own goal from Ian Gray who diverted Stuart Pearce’s free kick into his own net.
The vitory enabled Graham Taylor to equal Don Revie’s record of first nine matches without a loss.
Two days later, on June 3rd, they faced New Zealand at Auckland. Oldham defender Ear Barrett and Rangers Glasgow’s (and soon Liverpool’s) Mark Walters made their respective debuts. Sheffield United striker Brian Deane made his debut as well as a second half substitute.
England won (1-0) through a last minute strike through Gary Lineker.
The two teams faced off again on June 8th, this time at Wellington with Stuart Pearce captaining England for the first time. Nottingham Forest defender Gary Charles made his debut for England. England won (2-0) through goals from Stuart Pearce and David Hirst.
The Summer Tour concluded on June 12th with a first ever match vs. Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur. It was the Gary Lineker show and he scored England’s all four goals in their (4-2) win.
Lineker had now scored 45 goals for England and overtaken Jimmy Greaves as the second best goalscorer for England behind Bobby Charlton.
Taylor’s first season had included 12 matches. England had remained undefeated yet none of the performances had been convincing. Taylor had awarded caps to many players without really seeming to find a settled side.
The new season started with England’s toughest test yet. England hosted World Cup Champions Germany at Wembley on September 11th, 1991.
The English had to do without Gascoigne the entire season. His midfield partner David Platt had joined Italian Club Bari and was becoming more and more the leader that England needed.
Chris Woods (now with Sheffield Wednesday) was now once again restored as Number One in the new season.
The English suffered their fisrt defeat under Taylor in 13 matches by succumbing to a Karl-Heinz Riedle header in their (1-0) win.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Paul Stewart and Arsenal’s Paul Merson earned their first caps as second half substitutes.
England defeated Turkey (1-0) on October 16th in a key qualifier at Wembley through an Alan Smith goal. It was yet another disappointing display against a team that the English were expected to defeat with greater ease.
For this match Taylor recalled Tottenham Hotspur defender Gary Mabbutt after many years away, and surprisingly Chris Waddle.
Unfortunately, this would be his last cap as Taylor continued to ignore him afterwards.
England Captain Bryan Robson was also recalled and played his last match for his Nation. Shortly afterwards he announced his retirement from the National Team.
Qualification hinged upon the last qualifier vs. Poland at Poznan on November 13th. Taylor recalled Arsenal’s David Rocastle and handed starting debuts to Crystal Palace’s Andy Gray and Queen's Park Rangers’ Andy Sinton.
He also gave a debut to his Aston Villa Protegé Tony Daley, as a second half substitute.
England were losing (0-1) before Lineker once again saved England’s fortunes by scoring and tying the match in the 77th minute. The result gave them the point needed to qualify for the 1992 Euros.
Ten days after this match, Gary Lineker announced that he would retire from the National Team at the conclusion of Euro 92.
He would join the new Japanese J-League by signing for Nagoya Grampus-8.