9th October, 2013
LONDON: Former England manager Graham Taylor has warned current national coach Roy Hodgson about the dangers of failing to qualify for the World Cup.
Hodgson’s side tackle Montenegro at Wembley Stadium on Friday before playing Poland at the same venue next Tuesday, knowing only two victories will guarantee a berth at next year’s tournament in Brazil.
Taylor, 69, was vilified for his role in England’s failure to reach the 1994 tournament in the United States.
After a 2-0 loss to Holland in Rotterdam in October 1993 ended England’s hopes of qualifying, British tabloid The Sun depicted Taylor as a turnip on its front page and he says it was a slur that he has never shaken off.
“I remember I met Kelvin McKenzie, who was the editor of The Sun at the time, and he told me I was being over-sensitive to complain about his paper calling me a turnip. He said it was a bit of fun,” Taylor told the Daily Telegraph.
“Well, I was at a match in Brentford several years later, making my way to my car after the game when I saw out of the corner of my eye two yobbish-looking people coming out of the pub with a pint in each hand.
“They were shouting ‘There’s the effin’ turnip!’ and they chucked the pints over me. If it wasn’t for the swift action of the Brentford security people, I reckon it would have been worse. Was that just a bit of fun, Kelvin?”
He added: “When you’re committed and fail, the pain doesn’t go away. Twenty years on and we’re still talking about it.
“People say I’m silly, but the truth is I’ll take this to the grave with me: I am the England manager who failed to qualify for the World Cup.”
Nevertheless, Taylor has backed the current England squad to finish the job and qualify for Brazil.
“I seem to be the only person in the country not worried,” he said.
“What is up with all of us? Top of the table (in European qualifying Group H), two to play at home, a goal difference that’s excellent: why are people nervous? What’s the problem? Goodness me, I wish I was in Roy’s position.”
England have not failed to qualify for the World Cup since Taylor’s tenure, although they did miss out on a place at the 2008 European Championship.
Meanwhile, Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy says Joe Hart deserves to be England’s Number One goalkeeper and believes unfair scrutiny of players will affect England’s chances of success.
Hart, 26, was criticised for his errors in Manchester City’s defeats by Cardiff, Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.
Of Joe Hart’s 35 games for England, 21 have finished in victories, while 12 have been drawn, and he has been part of a losing England side only twice
Hart kept clean sheets in England’s previous World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine
“Joe’s the England Number One. Rightly so,” said Ruddy, one of Hart’s two understudies in the England squad.
“He doesn’t warrant that sort of attention. He’s a top-drawer keeper.”
“Nine times out of 10 when a keeper makes a mistake, the ball goes in the back of the net,” said Ruddy.
“It’s a tough world but every keeper is mentally strong enough to deal with that.
“We’re a strange bunch, but you have to be. The self-confidence and self-belief that you have as an individual has to be right up there.”