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Graham Taylor: In His Own Words By Graham Taylor

Release date: 16th December, 2017
Publisher: Peloton Books

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A couple of years ago, your correspondent had the good fortune to work with Graham Taylor on a season-long football project. A thoroughly decent man, he was always well prepared, his hand-written notes crammed with summarised answers to every possible question he might be asked. His answers were, of course, supplemented with a deep football knowledge; frankly, what he didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing.

This understanding of the game and razor-sharp assessment of how it changed during his forty year career underpins this fine autobiography, written over the two years before his untimely death.

In His Own Words benefits from Taylor’s immense experience. He was, after all, the Football League’s youngest manager when he took over at Lincoln City aged 28 after injury ended his playing career. He would go on to manage the Imps for 234 matches before Elton John asked him to take the helm at Vicarage Road.

Taylor took charge for more than 750 games during two spells as Watford manager; his win percentage during this period was a staggering 44.1% as he powered the Hornets through four divisions in five years. In 1982-83, they finished as runners-up to Liverpool in their debut season in the old First Division.

The unassuming Taylor did a similar job with Aston Villa, taking them from English football’s second tier to the cusp of the league title, denied, again by Liverpool, when finishing second in 1989-90. Yet for many, it was a surprise when he became England manager in 1990. Terry Venables was considered the leading contender and even Brian Clough was believed to have a better shout of getting the job.

Despite winning almost half (47%) of his matches at the country’s head coach, Taylor’s tenure, like that of every England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey , as well as every one of them since 1993, with the possible exception of Bobby Robson, was deemed a failure after England failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. Taylor’s deep disappointment, both with his team and himself, is evident here, although fortunately, he was never one to dwell on the past.

Graham Taylor could have used his autobiography to settle some scores, but thankfully he doesn’t, his inherent decency and humour instead shining through this uplifting read.


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