Football: Fifty years of England: From Winterbottom to Wilkinson

Glenn Moore examines the careers of England's managers
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The Independent Online

First game: 28 Sep 1946, Northern Ireland (a) 7-2

Last game: 22 Nov 1962, Wales (h) 4-0

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APPOINTED AFTER an unexpected defeat in Switzerland Winterbottom was director of coaching, with responsibility for the development of the game at all levels, first, and England coach second. He never had full control of selection but, in the early years, this did not matter as England reigned supreme, winning 4-0 in Italy and 10-0 in Portugal (the forward line in Lisbon was Matthews, Mortensen, Lawton, Mannion and Finney).

The fluke defeat against the United States in the 1950 World Cup, and a brace of heavy losses against Hungary a few years later, shattered this idyll and England did poorly in the 1954 finals. Steady improvement, including victories over world champions West Germany and Brazil, raised hopes for the 1958 World Cup. But the Munich tragedy fatally weakened the team and, despite drawing with eventual winners Brazil, England went out early.

Winterbottom, who worked without assistance until 1962, and had even cooked the team's meals in the 1950 finals, resigned after another disappointing World Cup in 1962.

Best match: 10-0 v Portugal (Lisbon) May 1947 F. Worst match: 1-7 v Hungary (Budapest) May 1954 F.



First game: 27 Feb 1963, France (a) 2-5

Last game: 3 Apr 1974, Portugal (a) 0-0

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OFFERED THE job after Jimmy Adamson, Winterbottom's assistant, had turned it down, Ramsey insisted on full control in all team matters. He quickly promised that England would win the 1966 World Cup.

A 5-2 European Championship defeat by France in his first match did not augur well, nor did a loss at Wembley to Austria as late as October 1965. Yet Ramsey had his defence in place and, gradually, fitted the rest of the jigsaw, culminating in Geoff Hurst's inclusion at the quarter-final stage. Victory over West Germany in the final made Ramsey a legend but he hoped it would be the prelude to further triumphs. Though England reached the last four of the 1968 European Championship, and quarter-finals of the 1970 World Cup and 1972 Championship, it was not to be.

The much-praised club spirit he had fostered now came to be seen as misguided loyalty and his distrust of "flair" players was also criticised. The end came after England narrowly missed out to Poland in qualifying for the 1974 finals.

Best match: 4-2 v W Germany (Wembley) July 1966 WC final. Worst result: 1-3 v W Germany (Wembley) April 1972 ECQ.


First game: 11 May 1974, Wales (a) 2-0

Last game: 5 June 1974, Yugoslavia (a) 2-2

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AFTER THE disappointment of failing to qualify for the 1974 World Cup Mercer put a smile back on the face of the England team in a seven-match spell as caretaker, during which England were only beaten once.

Best match: 1-0 v Bulgaria (Sofia) June 1974 F. Worst match: 0-2 v Scotland (Hampden) May 1974 F.


First game: 30 Oct 1974, Czechoslovakia (h) 3-0

Last game: 15 June 1977, Uruguay (a) 2-2

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THE OVERWHELMING candidate, once the Football Association had decided against Brian Clough, Revie signally failed to establish the club atmosphere which had been the cornerstone of his success at Leeds.

He began well with an adventurous 3-0 victory over Czechoslovakia, soon followed by an excellent win over West Germany, the reigning world champions. However, he failed to trust such players as Alan Hudson, who was inspirational against the Germans, and performances began to slide.

The Czechs knocked England out of the European Championship then Italy gained a decisive victory in the qualifying campaign for the 1978 World Cup. Revie decided to quit and negotiated a lucrative coaching position with the United Arab Emirates. Already known as "Don Readies" he sold the story of his defection to a newspaper. The FA reacted by banning him from the English game but Revie had the suspension quashed in the High Court.

Best match: 2-0 v W Germany (Wembley) Mar 1975 F. Worst match: 0-2 v Netherlands (Wembley) Feb 1977 F.



First game: 7 Sep 1977, Switzerland (h) 0-0

Last game: 5 July 1982 Spain (a) 0-0

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INITIALLY TOOK over as caretaker but strengthened his hand with a stylish World Cup victory over Italy. It was not enough to gain England qualification but it did earn Greenwood, widely admired for his coaching ability at West Ham, the job ahead of Brian Clough.

He steered England to the finals of the 1980 European Championship but performances in Italy were moderate. A series of bad displays in 1981, culminating in the World Cup qualifying defeat in Switzerland, led him to decide to resign but, after a stunning victory in Hungary, the following week, the players, led by Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking, persuaded him to stay.

Despite losing to Norway later, England qualified for Spain and impressed with three victories in their group. But with Keegan and Brooking suffering from injury, they could only manage goalless draws with both West Germany and Spain in the second stage and, despite being undefeated, went out.

Best match: 3-1 v Hungary (Budapest) June 1981 WCQ. Worst match: 1-2 v Norway (Oslo) Sept 1981 WCQ.



First game: 22 Sep 1982, Denmark (a) 2-2

Last game: 7 July 1990, Italy (a), WC third-place play-off 1-2

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ROBSON became the third-longest serving manager and the most successful after Ramsey, but only after being pilloried by both press and public.

He began badly, dropping Keegan from the first squad in an unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the 1984 European Championship which included losing at home to an unheralded Danish team. The recovery began in Rio de Janeiro, where John Barnes sparked England's only victory over Brazil in South America, the first in 12 attempts.

England initially stuttered at the 1986 World Cup but a 3-0 win over Poland carried them into the knock-out stage where they were defeated by Maradona's "Hand of God" goal.

After losing all three matches at the 1988 European Championship, England qualified for the 1990 World Cup, where they lost a titanic semi-final on penalties to Germany. Robson, who had been informed beforehand that his contract would not be renewed, departed with honour to win a series of club titles in Europe.

Best match: 4-1 v Yugoslavia (Belgrade) Nov 1987 ECQ. Worst match: 1- 3 v USSR (Frankfurt) June 1988 EC.


First game: 12 Sep 1990, Hungary (h) 1-0

Last game: 17 Nov 1993, San Marino (a) 7-1

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DESPITE AN outstanding career in club management, Taylor's undistinguished playing career and penchant for direct football meant he had his critics even before England had played a match under him. They were never entirely silenced, despite losing one game in his first 23 matches, and eventually became a cacophony which forced him out.

He began badly, dropping Paul Gascoigne, the hero of Italia 90, for his first game, but lost most support with the substitution of a retiring Gary Lineker, a goal short of Bobby Charlton's England record.

England again failed in a European Championship finals, leading to the "Turnip" image. Further vegetable vitriol was piled on during a World Cup qualifying campaign, marked by a hapless display in Norway and interrupted by defeat to the United States. Resignation was inevitable but an unflattering documentary provided an unfortunate postscript. Taylor's reputation has since been rehabilitated at Watford.

Best match: 3-0 v Poland (Wembley) Sept 1993 WCQ. Worst match: 0-2 v USA (Boston) June 1993 F.


First game: 9 March 1994, Denmark (h) 1-0

Last game: 26 June 1996, West Germany (h, Euro 96 s-f) 1-1

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THE DOUBTS over his business dealings that almost stymied Venables' appointment eventually precipitated his departure after the FA refused to extend his contract until after Euro 96. England's performance, culminating in another semi-final defeat to Germany on penalties, was generally seen as successful but by then Venables' successor had been appointed.

Venables had approached Euro 96 with a succession of friendlies, which gradually weaned the team from "direct play" to a more European style. Most of these matches were staged at Wembley, partly to replicate the conditions of Euro 96, partly out of fear of what England's hooligan support might do - a concern that proved justified when they wreaked havoc in Dublin.

Further shame, this time involving the players' behaviour on a pre-championship tour, preceded England into a tournament which they started slowly before blossoming against the Dutch, only to fail again from the spot.

Best match: 4-1 v Netherlands (Wembley) June 1998 EC. Worst match: 1- 1 v Switzerland (Wembley) June 1988 EC.

First game: 1 Sep 1996, Moldova (a) 3-0

Last game: 18 Nov 1998, Czech Republic (h) 2-0

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HODDLE, LIKE Taylor, inherited the mixed blessing of a good team and high expectations. At times his England side looked like living up to these, notably when they drew in Rome to qualify for the 1998 World Cup, but he also attracted heavy press criticism and, after a series of poor results, paid for it.

After choosing a strange team to meet Italy, Hoddle's team suffered a potentially catastrophic defeat at Wembley, England's first in a World Cup tie. This setback was overcome by a series of staunch performances, capped by the draw in Rome, but despite the discovery of David Beckham and Michael Owen, England were struggling as they approached the World Cup. They reached the knock-out stages but some bewildering selections meant they were pitted against Argentina, only to lose heroically.

England struggled to qualify for the 2000 European Championship, removing the safety net that had protected Hoddle from criticism over his World Cup diary. After some ill-judged comments about reincarnation he was forced to resign.

Best match: 0-0 v Italy (Rome) Oct 1997 WCQ. Worst match: 0-2 v Chile (Wembley) Feb 1998 F.



Only match: 0-2 v France (Wembley) Feb 1999 F

WILKINSON, THE FA's technical director, stepped in as caretaker after Hoddle's departure but had little chance to rally a demoralised team (one that was so hampered by injuries he was forced to play 34-year-old Lee Dixon) at home to the rampant world champions.

WC World Cup; EC European Championship; Q Qualifier; F Friendly