Football: Enter Reid as Taylor hits out

John Curtis hears the Under-21 coach making waves as he makes way for the new regime
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The Independent Online
PETER REID, who led Sunderland to promotion to the Premiership last season, will replace Peter Taylor as coach of the England Under-21 side. The appointment was announced before England's European Championship qualifier with Sweden at Wembley yesterday by the Football Association's technical director Howard Wilkinson, who added that the job will again revert to a part-time role.

The announcement came the day after Taylor had hit out at his impending departure. Taylor, who must leave his post after Tuesday's European Under- 21 Championship qualifier in Bulgaria, admitted: "I hope the FA feel embarrassed about the situation."

Taylor saw his side move closer to winning their European Championship group as goals from Carl Cort (2) and Richard Cresswell ensured a comfortable 3-0 success over Sweden at the McAlpine Stadium on Friday night. Victory maintained England's 100 per cent record in their group and moved them seven points clear of Bulgaria and Poland who drew 3-3 on the same evening.

Now a win in Bulgaria will ensure England of winning their group before Taylor has to clear his desk at Lancaster Gate after three years of almost unbroken success. The facts show that England have lost only one of 15 European matches during Taylor's reign - and that was a play-off match in Greece in November 1997.

But they are also playing with style and flair while a host of players have graduated into the senior England set-up, formerly under Glenn Hoddle and now Kevin Keegan. That is not sufficient to save Taylor from being relieved of his duties and it is not surprising that the offer of staying on with the FA in a lower capacity was too much for him to stomach.

Taylor explained: "If I am honest I think other people have earned contracts in football on the strength of the same sort of record as I have achieved. If people are successful they tend to get rewarded with new deals - but I haven't got one. I can toe the line and say 'that's the way things go' but I am very disappointed. It appears I'm not seen as the long-term manager and I don't know why.

"I know there have been changes at the top of the FA and when that happens people want to bring in their own people. But for me, because of the way the players have responded to how I and my staff treat them, I think it's a great shame it is all going to end."

Reid will have a hard act to follow in Taylor, who became the first coach to hold the post full-time when appointed by Hoddle after Euro 96. But his record at club level means that he will have the same respect from the players as has been given to Taylor.

Reid will also have a strong ally in Wilkinson, who said: "He has huge respect because of his achievements as both a player and a coach. He is highly qualified and jumped at the chance to further his football education. The FA isn't just about developing players but also English coaches with the potential to reach the top domestically and internationally." Reid said: "I was proud to play for my country and it's a great thrill to get the chance to coach at international level. I'm looking forward to working with all our young players and Howard."

Meanwhile, Wales' senior stars were warned to keep their shirts on when they celebrate a goal. The words of caution come from Wales Under-21 coach Tom Walley who saw his 18-year-old starlet Leon Jeanne suffer a bizarre red card for waving his shirt above his head to celebrate his first international goal in the 6-2 defeat by Italy in Ferrara. The QPR striker was left in tears by the Romanian referee Constantin Zotta.

Jeanne had been unlucky to be booked for a foul after 14 minutes and when he scored in the 28th minute and marked it by removing his shirt and embarking on a whirling run down the touchline, Zotta reacted with a second yellow card and then a red.

Walley said: "The decision ruined the game. We were facing fine players, much older lads than we had playing, and young men who are playing at the very highest level in Serie A each week. It was hard enough playing against them with 11 men, but with 10 we were always up against it. I have found it hard to say anything to Leon, he is so devastated. It was a cruel lesson to learn for him."

Wales twice came from behind to equalise in the Group One tie, Matthew Jones adding to Jeanne's strike. But Italy had Milan's pounds 6m striker Nicola Ventola, who struck a superb hat-trick to break Wales' hearts.