Football: How it always ends in tears

The reigns of England football managers have invariably ended in acrimony. Phil Shaw takes the history lesson
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The Independent Online
Walter Winterbottom


IN THE modern era, Winterbottom's reign would surely not have survived England's World Cup defeat by the United States in 1950. The one-time teacher and Manchester United half-back stayed a further 13 years, doubling as FA director of coaching. However, he merely coached and organised a side picked by a selection committee containing club chairmen and FA backwoodsmen. Some players felt he was too academic and complained about 90-minute team talks (although Ron Greenwood described him as the "instigator of all new ideas in English football"). Press relations were increasingly poor and he stepped down after a spate of "Winterbottom must go" headlines.

RECORD: Played 139, won 78, drawn 33, lost 28

World Cup 1950 (Brazil): England eliminated in group stage.

World Cup 1954 (Switzerland): England knocked out by Uruguay in the quarter- finals.

World Cup 1958 (Sweden): England eliminated after losing a play-off game to the Soviet Union.

World Cup 1962 (Chile): England beaten by eventual winners Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Sir Alf Ramsey


THE MANAGER who delivered England the Jules Rimet Trophy was dismissed after eight years of relative failure in its aftermath. Ramsey was rarely at ease with the media, famously rebuffing two reporters who asked how he felt the day after the triumph over West Germany: "Gentlemen, this is my day off." The single-mindedness which initially served the team well became perceived as aloofness and intransigence - "We have nothing to learn from Brazil," he remarked in 1970 - while his teams were increasingly condemned as dull and negative. Press clamour for his demise following failure to qualify for the '74 World Cup was satisfied when the FA sacked him on May Day.

P113, W69, D27, L17

World Cup 1966 (England): England win the World Cup, beating West Germany at Wembley 4-2 after extra time.

European Championship 1968 (Italy): England are knocked out by Yugoslavia at the semi-final stage, but win the third place play-off match 2-0 against the Soviet Union.

World Cup 1970 (Mexico): England knocked out 3-2 by Germany in the quarter-finals.

After failing to qualify for the 1974 World Cup finals in Germany, Ramsey is replaced.

Don Revie


"DON READIES", as his alleged motivation by money led to his being dubbed at Leeds, enjoyed a brief honeymoon with a media grateful for a fresh face after Ramsey's reign. But mutual suspicion and hostility, which simmered during a shambolic attempt to reach the 1978 World Cup finals, boiled over when it emerged that Revie had fixed himself up with a lucrative deal in Dubai and given the exclusive on his defection to one newspaper (reputedly for pounds 15,000). Revie, who even tried to negotiate a pay-off from the England job on the grounds that the pressure on himself and his family had become intolerable, had an FA ban slapped on him, while one tabloid claimed he had fixed matches.

P29, W14, D8, L7

Failed to qualify for 1978 World Cup finals.

Ron Greenwood


A FRIEND of Winterbottom's, Greenwood also provided three key men to Ramsey's world-beating line-up. Despite being pushed "upstairs" at West Ham, he was seen as having the necessary dignity (vital after the Revie saga) and an advocate of a more "Continental" style by an FA international committee which was under pressure to appoint Brian Clough. Led England to European Championship finals in 1980, with modest results, while the side started well at the ensuing World Cup before fizzling out. Media criticism was not as strident as that of his successors, yet "sickening" enough in 1981 for him to tell the players he was quitting. They persuaded him to stay and he retired a year later.

P55, W33, D12, L10

European Championship (Italy) 1980: England knocked out at the group stage.

World Cup 1982 (Spain): England eliminated at the second stage.

Bobby Robson


FOR A genial man who had two respectable tilts at the World Cup, Robson endured periods of personalised vilification from press and public alike. Jimmy Greaves, an ex-England colleague, suggested that the "no-holds barred attack" by the tabloids "could not have been more vicious if he'd been a mass murderer". Brian Clough and even Alf Ramsey joined in, but Robson persevered and built a team around the talents of Lineker, Pearce, Beardsley, Waddle et al. On the eve of Italia 90, lurid reports detailing alleged sexual peccadilloes prompted him to announce he would leave after the finals. "It's a disgrace," he said. "They're trying to sell papers off my back by being sensational."

P95, W47, D29, L19

World Cup 1986 (Mexico): defeated against Argentina (`the hand of God').

European Championship 1988 (Germany): Knocked out in group stages.

World Cup 1990 (Italy): Knocked out on penalties against Germany in the semi-finals, and England lose their third-place play-off match against Italy.

Graham Taylor


TAYLOR GREW up around football journalists, his father being a long-serving scribe, and while with Aston Villa he built a reputation for being articulate, affable and eminently quotable, if a little verbose. However, attributes viewed as pluses in the Midlands were seen as irritants by the London- based correspondents covering England, especially after he fell out with Gary Lineker during the Euro 92 fiasco. One paper memorably nicknamed him "The Turnip", and the negative image was compounded by an expletive- ridden TV documentary. His press conferences turned into confrontations and it was a tormented figure who resigned after England missed out on USA 94.

P38, W18, D13, L7

European Championship 1992 (Sweden): Knocked out in round one.

Failed to qualify for 1994 World Cup finals.

Terry Venables


BY COMPARISON with his predecessors, and with Hoddle, Venables was a consummate media manipulator, armed with a ready quip as well as the requisite tactical knowledge which Taylor's critics argued he lacked. Appointed despite the FA's awareness of his tangled business affairs, he was undone not by bad results or harrassment by the red-top papers but by a long- running legal spat with Spurs' owner, Alan Sugar. When the head of the international committee, Noel White, intimated that he did not have the FA's backing over his determination to pursue litigation, Venables announced he would go after Euro 96. Ironically, like Robson he then took England desperately close to a final.

P23, W12, D9, L2

European Championship finals 1996 (England): Defeated on penalties against Germany in semi-finals.

Glenn Hoddle


WHEN HODDLE'S boots did the talking, few players were more articulate. But, like Taylor, his reign has foundered as much as by his foot-in-mouth utterances as by patchy performances. Though his stock was high after England reached France 98, they fared no better in the finals than Paraguay or Chile. He claimed they would have won the World Cup had they beaten Argentina, and that his one mistake was not taking faith-healer Eileen Drewery. The media came to disdain this inability to admit errors (he also said Michael Owen was "not a natural finisher"), as well as what they saw as overbearing self-importance and pretentious theorising about karma and reincarnation.

W17, D4, L7

World Cup finals 1998 (France): Defeated on penalties against Argentina in second round.

Statistics include defeats on penalties.