Football: Taylor turn-up as Regis delivers: Norman Fox sees Wolves please their new manager with a 2-1 victory

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The Independent Online
IT WOULD hardly have ranked with defeat by the Netherlands, Norway or the United States, but to lose to Tranmere Rovers and cast more doubts about qualifying for the First Division play-offs would have had Graham Taylor asking himself whether a full-time job in advertising might not have been a better option than accepting one as manager of Wolves. On the day, though, the old campaigner Cyrille Regis ensured that he could even claim to have made an inspired tactical substitution that won the game.

Taylor admitted that he had faced the occasion more apprehensively than he expected and was nervous all afternoon. 'But I decided near the end that there was no point in holding out for a draw, which is why I put on Cyrille for the last 10 minutes - perhaps these days he couldn't last for longer.'

Officially, yesterday was Taylor's first day in charge, though on Tuesday night he could not resist leaving his seat at Bolton and going to join the bench. Most, though not all, the travelling fans had cheered his first appearance. In spite of a standing ovation, not all of the big crowd welcomed him unreservedly yesterday. Well you wouldn't, would you? You have to have reservations about seeing one of football's most historically rich, and these days actually rich, clubs chase after the man who presided over England's World Cup failure. But whatever his international failings, Taylor's success at Watford and Aston Villa remain highlights on his cv

There will be some early attention to the way he asks Wolves to play, but nothing like the oppressive analysis he suffered with England, when everyone wanted to justify the allegation that he was a long- ball man. Well, the accurate long ball allied to good wingmanship served Wolves well enough in Stan Cullis's time.

It is less than a week into his new career and, apart from the substitution, Taylor's influence yesterday was minimal. What was immediately clear to him was that the Wolves wing- play of yesteryear was conspicuously absent, while any blasted clearance towards Whittingham was greatly appreciated by the crowd. But Whittingham is always a handful, and after 21 minutes a glanced header forward by Lee Mills was taken up by his powerful run. John McGreal was the last defender to beat apart from the goalkeeper, and both were decisively wrong-footed.

Tranmere were persistent, though, and after 74 minutes John Morrissey fed Kenny Irons out on Wolves' left side. His low drive across the area was comfortably swivelled in by John Aldridge.

It hardly took the experience of Taylor to realise that it was time to send on big Cyrille. The decision came in the 82nd minute, and in the 83rd he went on a typically strong run that had him evading Higgins before releasing Mills, who efficiently beat Nixon.