England's manager takes an early bath

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GRAHAM TAYLOR bowed to the inevitable yesterday and resigned as manager of the England football team, six days after their failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Taylor, in charge since July 1990, gave notice of his intention to quit last Thursday, when it became apparent he no longer enjoyed the majority support of the Football Association, who paid him pounds 140,000 a year. He leaves with eight months of his contract to run, having negotiated compensation of about pounds 90,000.

Taylor bows out as the first England manager for 16 years not to qualify for the World Cup. He succeeded Bobby Robson in 1990, immediately after England were unlucky not to reach that final, losing to Germany, the eventual winners, in a semi-final penalty shoot-out.

Taylor's credentials were comparatively modest successes with Aston Villa and Watford, both of whom had finished runners-up in the old First Division under his blue-collar guidance.

He took England to the 1992 European Championship finals, but they returned from Sweden without winning a match.

For the World Cup, Taylor declared himself 'well satisfied' when England were drawn in qualifying Group 2. His satisfaction was brief. The first match, at home to Norway, was one England were expected to win, but a 1-1 draw got them off on the wrong foot. When they failed to beat the Dutch at Wembley, after leading 2-0, their campaign disintegrated.

Taylor was unlucky with injuries, but was too quick to discard experienced players of proven quality, such as Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley. Capricious selection and muddled tactics confused his team and fuelled mounting criticism which culminated in Monday's denunciation by Charles Hughes, the FA's director of coaching, who blamed England's decline on managerial indecision and inconsistency.

Taylor plans to resume his career in club management, possibly with Wolverhampton Wanderers. The FA will replace him with a caretaker for the rest of the season. Howard Wilkinson, of Leeds United, is ante-post favourite for the job proper.

Failure of a proud man, page 40

Sports Letters, page 38