Robin Scott Elliot: Taylor plods over to see The Hod in pedestrian follow-up to classic

View From The Sofa: The Impossible Job ITV4 5 Oct, 11/England Expects ITV1 8 Oct, 10.35
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The Independent Football

The Impossible Job (1TV4) was a sitting duck. For a reason that evades rational explanation, Graham Taylor agreed to be filmed as he went about his business as manager of England and gave viewers the chance to watch a man fall apart. Fifteen years on, this seminal footballing documentary remains compelling car-crash television.

As part of their build-up to England's return to ITV, Taylor agreed – for a reason that has a rational explanation – to introduce a repeat of the Impossible Job and then front England Expects. The explanation? Revenge. England Expects (ITV1) took Taylor on a journey, largely by taxi it seemed, to explore why managing the national team has become the impossible job. It should have been subtitled "Do I not like the media" or "It was all your fault, you bastards".

Taylor was given a horribly rough ride during his time in charge and it apparently still rankles with a man who has impressively rehabilitated himself, in a footballing sense, since those dark days. "What started out as a dream turned into the worst experience of my professional life," said Taylor at the start of "I'm out to get you, you free-lunch-chasing ink-monkeys". But this programme proved as wide of the mark as a Carlton Palmer long ball. It was a plodding hour of TV that must have cost a great deal more than Taylor's first starring role, especially when the taxi receipts were totted up.

It also attempted to rewrite history. Off Taylor went to interview Glenn Hoddle. The Hod, so Taylor's tale went, had seen his side unluckily beaten in the World Cup on penalties by Argentina (true), but then "after Argentina the media descended on Hoddle and he resigned amid a hysterical clamour for his head" (not true).

The two of them chatted away with Hoddle saying that he was not saying that it was all the media's fault, but that they do undermine the quality of the team, the chance of winning tournaments, the price of eggs, the existence of God and the chance of any camel, no matter how well it might have prepared, getting through the eye of a needle.

On to Mexico and, after the obligatory taxi trip, a chat with Sven. Say what you like about the Swede (insert your own turnip joke here), but this is a man who knows how to land on his feet. Which is no mean feat with stacked heels. Eriksson manages Mexico and was interviewed sitting smugly in the plushest of rooms in what is presumably his new home. He agreed that, for sure, it was all the fault of the fork-tongued laptop leeches from Fleet Street.

There was finally an effort to look elsewhere for the problems faced by the England manager – too many foreign players in the Premier League, it's too hot abroad (eh?) – but before the end Taylor managed to return to his pet subject by dining with three journalists (See? Free lunch) and we left none the wiser.

Which seems to be how England's players left the dressing room during his tenure. "Whatever we do," he said, "we mustn't get caught early by a quick break." Sure enough ... "You talk till you're blue in the face," said Taylor sadly.

A muddled attempt to reach USA '94 came down to that final game in Rotterdam. England lost. "Tell your mate," Taylor said to the linesman gesturing at the referee, "that he's cost me my job." Fifteen years on it seems as if Taylor is still playing the blame game.

No dream excuse for Iwelumo nightmare

It took three replays before the commentators at Hampden on Saturday – and this viewer – could work out why Chris Iwelumo's "goal" was disallowed. Perhaps it was wishful viewing, refusing to believe it hadn't ended up in the net, but poor Iwelumo endured the worst start by a Scot since Gavin Hamilton's Test cricket debut in 1999 – at least Hamilton could tell his compatriots that he was playing for England.

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