Thursday, February 9, 2017

National Team Managers-Part Three (Graham Taylor (1990/1993))-Part 3 (1992)

Graham Taylor: England National Team Manager (1990/1993)
Year 1992
In preparation for the main event in the summer, England had scheduled many friendly matches.
The first one of the year was actually against one of their Group opponents in the Euros, France on February 19th at Wembley.
The match had been scheduled before the draw and the respective Federations decided to keep it nonetheless.
Lineker’s impending departure had given Taylor food for thought, as attacking options were limited.
He chose to give a debut to Southampton striker Alan Shearer in place of Lineker (He had spoken to Lineker beforehand for the experimentation).
Taylor also gave debuts to Liverpool defender Rob Jones and Everton defender Martin Keown.
Alan Shearer had a dream debut and scored just before halftime to give England the lead. Lineker came on in the second half and scored England’s second.
Shearer certainly won points after an impressive debut and would in time become England Captain himself.
Their next match was a friendly vs. Czechoslovakia at Prague on March 25th.
Taylor surprisingly recalled striker Mark Hateley (now with Rangers Glasgow) after four years away. It would be his only cap under Taylor.

Photo From: Soccer International, Volume 3, Issue 9, September 1992
(Graham Taylor)

The match ended in a (2-2) tie with Merson and Keown scoring for England.
The following month, England faced the Commonwealth of Independent States (as the former Soviet Union were now known under) in Moscow.
The match once again ended in a (2-2) tie with Lineker and Trevor Steven for the English.
This would turn out to be Lineker’s 48th and Final goal for England. At the time this was just one less than Charlton and odds appeared to be in his favor to overtake him but it would not to be.
Taylor gave a debut to a player who would go on to epitomize the criticism of his selections: Sheffield Wednesday’s Carlton Palmer. The media consensus on Palmer was that he was a good player at club level but not worthy to receive International recognition. Regardless, Taylor persevered with the player for the long run.
He also gave second half debuts to Crystal Palace goalkeeper Nigel Martyn and Manchester City defender Keith Curle.
Just a couple of weeks later on May 12th at Budapest England met the Hungarians.
Manchester United midfielder Neil Webb was recalled for the first time under Taylor and the first time since the 1990 World Cup. He would celebrate his recall by scoring England’s only goal in a (1-0) win.
Five days later (May 17th) at Wembley, England hosted Brazil in a prestige Friendly.
Gary Lineker had the chance to give England the lead in the 10th minute, as well as tie Bobby Charlton’s record, but he missed his penalty kick attempt. It was clear that the thought of the record was on his mind and making him nervous. Bebeto gave Brazil the lead in the 20th minute, before Platt tied up the match for the Englsih in the 50th minute.
The Final friendly before the Euros was at Helsinki vs. Finland on June 3rd.
England would miss Lee Dixon as he was injured days before and would miss out on the Euros. Rangers Glasgow’s Gary M. Stevens replaced him.
England won the match (2-1) through a double strike from Platt but suffered more injuries that deprived them of players from the Euros.
Gary M. Stevens himself was lost to injury as was John Barnes. Keith Curle and Andy Sinton replaced the pair in the Finals squad.
England started its Euro Finals by facing Denmark at Malmö on June 11th. It would be a typical scrappy affair and a scoreless tie was no surprise.
Three days later (June 14th) at the same venue, they met France (that they had beaten months earlier).
Taylor made a number of changes from the previous match. In the cursed right back position (that had seen Dixon and Stevens out injured), he took out Curle and put midfielder Andy Sinton in the position.
He also replaced Merson with the more combative David Batty. He also inserted Alan Shearer (perhaps because he had already scored against the opponents) in place of Alan Smith. The match would once again be a tight affair between two teams intent on not losing. The only highlight of the match was a free kick by Stuart Pearce that struck the Horizontal bar.

Photo From: Soccer International, Volume 3, Issue 9, September 1992 (9)
(Graham Taylor with English fans during the 1992 Euros)

Going into the last Group match vs. Hosts Sweden at Stockholm on June 17th, all four teams in the Group had a chance to qualify to the Semifinals.
Once again Taylor made tactical adjustments for this match. For the third match running a new player was tasked with playing at the right back position. This time it was midfielder David Batty. Andy Sinton was moved up into the midfield.
Tony Daley was inserted into the squad and Neil Webb started in place of Shearer.
England took the lead as early as the fourth minute through Platt and held onto it until halftime. Sweden gradually came back into the match and scored the tying goal early in the second half through Jan Eriksson.
In the 62nd minute Taylor took of his Captain Gary Lineker and replaced him with Alan Smith to everyone’s amazement (and Lineker’s anger).
The move did not pay off dividends as Tomas Brolin scored Sweden’s winner in the 82nd minute and England were eliminated.
Later Taylor would explain that he had replaced Lineker with Smith because “we needed someone to hold the ball up”.
There were those thought the replacement was a move to humiliate Lineker and it would later emerge that the pair had problems with one another.
Needless to say the Tabloids and actual Football critics wanted Taylor to resign. For the first time, ‘The Sun’ newspaper would refer to Taylor as a Turnip with the headline of ‘Sweden 2-Turnips 1’and morphing Taylor’s face on a Turnip.
Taylor was not sacked and stayed in place as everyone turned their attention to the 1994 USA World Cup qualification.
Taylor had agreed to participate in a documentary for ‘Channel Four’ for the World Cup Qualification. As part of the agreement he consented to wear a microphone. The documentary would be titled “The Impossible Job”, which would turn out to be controversial in its own right and would reflect on Taylor in a negative way.
The first match post-Euros was a friendly vs. Spain at Santander on September 9th, 1992.
It was the post Lineker era and the Neo-Blackburn Rovers striker Alan Shearer was now charged with the goalscoring duties.
Taylor also promoted Stuart Pearce as the new Captain now that Lineker was no longer there.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 57, October 1993
(Graham Taylor)

This new season was also the inaugural Premier League season that would have profound effects on the Game to this day.
Taylor gave a debut to Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince, as well as Manchester City’s David White. Queens Park Rangers defender David Bardsley also was handed out a second half debut. Brian Deane also earned a recall.
In the following month, England started its qualification campaign against Norway at Wembley on October 14th. Normally, Norway would have been seen as easy prey for England, but they had improved over the years and were now contenders.
England had Paul Gascoigne now available after more than a year away.
Although the off-field problems with him still lingered. Just a couple of days before the match, after a drinking session with Paul Merson, Gascoigne had charged into Taylor’s room.
Taylor would criticize Gascoigne to the Press by referring to his ‘refueling habits’. This angered Gascoigne as he felt such matters should have remained private.
In another incident, Gascoigne as asked by a Norwegian Television crew if he had a message for Norway and he replied: “F%#& Norway”.
England Assistant Manager Lawrie McMenemy tried in vain to dissuade the Television Station from airing it, but he was unsuccessful and they did air the profanity.
The match itself did not turn out to be the affair the English were hoping for,
Platt gave England the lead in thee 56th minute but the Norwegians did not give up and tied the match in the 77th minute through Kjetil Rekdal and earned a point. This was a warning for England that Norway were no pushovers and qualification would be an arduous task.
England defeated Turkey (4-0) in their last match of the year and their second qualifier on November 18th at Wembley. Gascoigne was impressive by scoring twice with Shearer and Pearce scoring the other goals.

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