Football: Carragher praises Taylor

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLAND Under-21 captain, Jamie Carragher, claimed yesterday that the team's coach, Peter Taylor, has been sacked because of his connections with Glenn Hoddle.

The Liverpool defender feels that Taylor has paid the price for being appointed by Hoddle, who left the post of England's senior coach in February. Carragher believes that Taylor should have been retained after three years of almost unbroken success. He ended in style with his side clinching top spot in Group Five of the European Championship qualifying competition following Tuesday's 1-0 success in Bulgaria, to maintain England's 100 per cent record at the level.

However, Taylor's departure was decided in March by the Football Association technical director, Howard Wilkinson, and now Taylor is looking for a new job while Peter Reid replaces him on a part-time basis.

Carragher, who has won 19 caps under Taylor, said: "All the lads wanted to give Peter Taylor a good send-off on Tuesday and we were all delighted when we got the victory for him. Whatever happened in that game, he would still have gone out on a high with the results he had already achieved, but to qualify as well before he left put the icing on the cake.

"We basically qualified for the tournament through Peter Taylor being coach and he has a great record. He treats the lads like adults. You can have a laugh and a joke which relaxes the lads, but when it needs to be serious we get down to business. He's got the right mixture."

Carragher, who led the side in place of the suspended Frank Lampard, said: "I think his record speaks for itself. I don't think anyone can come in and do better than he has done. But as he was part of the Glenn Hoddle set-up, part of his backroom staff, I don't think it is too much of a shock that he is going. It wasn't surprising in that way - but with his record he maybe should have been kept on."

Carragher, who won his first senior cap last month in Hungary, added: "The experience you get at Under-21 level definitely helps when you get the call. But, although the senior side is the experience we all want to achieve, you don't forget where you've come from in the Under-21s and I was delighted to help them win the group in Bulgaria.

"What the Under-21s want now is to go on and do well in the European Championships - and when we put our strongest team out, I don't think anyone in Europe would be able to live with us."

Carl Cort, who scored his fifth goal in five games for the Under-21s with the late winner in Bulgaria, said: "There was a feeling among all the lads before the kick-off of: `We want to do it for Peter Taylor' because he has done such a tremendous job. Everyone has got so much respect for him and he has got so much respect for us. It's a delight to play under him and we have all learned so much.

"It's a shame that he will not be the Under-21 manager from now on. The whole staff, Peter Taylor, Dave Sexton and Sammy Lee, all get us going. They are great motivators and the tactics are also very good."

It was an emotional evening, with Taylor struggling to hold back the tears after the final whistle and still wondering why he had been axed as England have scored 17 goals and conceded none in the competition.

Taylor said: "I have the greatest respect for Peter Reid who has done a brilliant job with Sunderland, and there is no doubt he will motivate the players when they meet up. But I also have to say that a full-time coach-manager is very important, and if I am honest I am surprised the FA have gone back to making the job part-time."