Monday, June 24, 2024

Wenger pays tribute to honest, brave and passionate Graham Taylor

Arsene Wenger has paid tribute to Graham Taylor OBE who died yesterday at the age of 72.

Taylor and Wenger were London Colney training ground neighbours between 1996-2001 when the former England manager was in charge of Watford for a second time.

Taylor had previously made his name with the Elton John owned Hornets in the seventies and eighties, engineering their rise from the fourth division to a second-place finish in Division One in the space of five seasons.

He also managed Lincoln City, Wolves and enjoyed two fruitful spells at Aston Villa.

“It’s very sad,” said Wenger in his pre-Swansea press conference. “I was surprised, absolutely surprised. I’d never heard that he was sick.

“We were close at some stage because he was manager at Watford and I had, once or twice, lunch with him.

“He was a man who had a big passion, was brave, competent and absolutely, totally focused on the game.

“I could feel as well that he suffered a lot as manager of England and we never know how much the violence of this job has an incidence on our health. I must say it is a very sad day for English football.”

Wenger added: “He was an honest, educated man. Pat Rice, who was my assistant here for many, many years, had him as a manager.

“He spoke to me about how passionate he was and how interesting it was to work under him at Watford [Rice played for the Hornets, 1980-84]. They had John Barnes at the time at Watford; they had a good team.”

Taylor’s failure to lead England to the 1994 World Cup, graphically portrayed in the Channel 4 documentary ‘An Impossible Job’, and the way he was vilified by the Rupert Murdoch and Robert Maxwell owned tabloids – at the time engaged in a vicious ratings war – left him battling to salvage his reputation as a top-level coach.

What never came into doubt was Taylor’s reputation as a true gentleman of the sport, as evidenced by the outpouring of affection from supporters, players, managerial peers and broadcasters over the last 24 hours.

This thread on Twitter is particularly touching.

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Pedant

Do I not like that.

RIP, Mr Taylor.

spinner

Graham Taylor was a decent and honest man. Although his achievements as England manager were below expectations, his amazing success at Watford and Aston Villa shows he was a talented football guy.

Toure Motors

I heard a clip of him challenging an England ‘fan’ racially abusing John Barnes on radio last night. He was the only one from the English bench who did it. true bravery to do that!, RIP

JJM

I always felt that Taylor’s love of the game shone through in his punditry. He was someone who you could always tell wanted players to do well, who you could sense desperately wanted them to perform at their peak. Some pundits (Mills, Collymore, Savage et all) are at their ‘best’ when a player is struggling and you can hear their glee when given the chance to rip into a player for their perceived lack of form, weakness of character, or for some way in which the game has changed (invariably for the worse) since their heyday. I never got that… Read more »

vvj

What really sickens me though is how the press really crucified the man when he was in the England job now all falling over and saying what a great man and manager he was. Makes me sick. Fickle lot the press, and some fans too.

RIP Graham Taylor.

Jungu Beans

I wonder if that is what Wenger meant by “the violence of this job has an incidence on our health”. What a stark way of putting it.

Monkey nuts

I wrote a letter to him when Watford got to the Premiership in 2000 and he wrote back and enclosed a ticket for the next match. A real gentleman in sea of egos.

Petit's Handbag

Won’t mention any names of newspapers but how some people can sleep at night I’ll never know. A good man with a passion for a game we all share. RIP

Jack Kelsey

It was most unfair for GT to be so vilified by the press for England’s failure when the sides he could put out had been weakened by injuries. Added to the fact that England’s failures are now recognized as chronic and systemic, irrespective of who the manager is.

RIP to a genuine legend of the English game.

Hadvar

Even if you love a job, and get paid a wedge, a stressful job takes it’s toll. I always say “it’s not the age, it’s the mileage”. People with dead easy, relaxing jobs (such as blogging) don’t suffer like the rest of us. 🙂

Best wishes to those who knew him, he seemed like a nice bloke.

John Stepanovs

Really touched by that link.

Thank you Arseblogger.

Hi-brid

Lovely guy – and it speaks volumes in this day and age to read a comments section without a single down vote.

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