Graham Taylor, what a legend!
Younger football fans may of heard Taylor as being some kind of David Brent type character, due largely to the way he was portrayed by some papers and the TV media, particularly the documentary on his time as England boss. Well if you do hold such a negative opinion of the man, let me tell you do I not like that!
During the Lincoln City v Ipswich Town FA Cup replay the other night there was a lovely tribute was paid by the fans to Graham in the 76th minute (the last time Lincoln reached the 4th round under his management). In a performance that made Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy squirm, Lincoln put in a display that would have made the great man smile if he was watching down from above.
'Old School' style of management is a term that seems to crop up a lot in life these days both in football and even in my experiences in nursing.
Graham was old school because he cared about his players, when reading former Aston Villa defender Paul McGrath's autobiography recently, he had nothing but pure admiration & respect for the lengths Graham went to help him with his off-field battles with alcoholism & to keep it out of the media when he was in rehabilitation. TO do that for one of your players takes some class.
At every club he is still well respected by all the fans.
For those that don't know, Graham took Watford, a club at a similar level as Reading in the mid 1970's, from the old Division Four to second place in Division One in just a few seasons, as well as reaching an FA Cup Final & qualifying for Europe.
His man-management style was second to none & got the best out of players with limited ability but he was also able to help develop flair players like John Barnes, all the while with a smile on his face.
Current constant whinging managers like Jose Mourinho & Arsene Wenger could learn a lesson or two from Graham on how to act with class.
Maybe Taylor was just too nice & honest to be England manager. He always fronted with the media and made sure his answers reflected his opinions in an honest way rather than give the standard non-committal stuff you hear from most managers these days.
The England team at that time was in transition post Italia 90 following the retirement of legends like Peter Shilton & Terry Butcher as well as dealing with an injured Gazza & trying to nurture a young Alan Shearer. Chuck in a number of very average players to pull on the shirt due to a lack of better options, mix it with a lot of bad luck and that was that for Taylor in the top job.
Even so, Graham bounced back & got Watford back into the Premier League from the third tier!
He was a football man through and through, who spoke with real passion & sense that is missed today.
He inspired me to take on a successful management career in nursing because he taught me that nice guys can be winners too.
Elton John, who shared Graham's journey with Watford as Chairman summed it up when he paid tribute, saying that he had lost a brother with his passing.
Thank you Graham you will never be forgotten x