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Friday, February 5, 1999 Published at 10:34 GMT


Sport: Football

The impossible job

The two Robsons: Bobby (right) with former captain Bryan

The England manager's position was described as "an impossible job" even before a documentary of that name exposed the difficulties of former incumbent Graham Taylor.

The Hoddle File
And while most football managers get judged by results, anyone brave enough to take on the national team also has to watch their step off the field and in the committee rooms of the Football Association.

Glenn Hoddle's demise was preceded by the financial and legal problems surrounding predecessor Terry Venables.

England's other manager of the 1990s, Taylor, might not have achieved a great deal on the field, but his case can not have been helped by the events depicted in that infamous Channel 4 record of his term in office.

Even the man who won the World Cup in 1966, Sir Alf Ramsey, left the job before he wanted to, with plenty of enemies at the FA.

The lessons of history for the next England manager are clear.

  • Make sure the team wins
  • Keep your personal life spotless
  • Keep the FA officials happy
  • Do not upset the press

Terry Venables: Risky business (1993-6)

Perhaps more than any other job in football, the England manager has to be a safe pair of hands.


[ image: Venables: Legal battles]
Venables: Legal battles
Clubs have been happy to take on controversial characters such as Brian Clough and Ron Atkinson, but it is hard to see either being welcomed at the FA.

In the end Venables turned out to be too much of a risk, despite an impressive record culminating in defeat on penalties to Germany in Euro 96.

His employers knew of the baggage he carried on his arrival in the job, but his business interests and legal battles became too much for the committee men to give him unqualified support.

Venables decided to go in late 1995, fearing they would be unwilling to publicly support him through a series of court battles he was due to fight in the autumn of 1996.

Graham Taylor: Did they not like that (1990-93)

Taylor showed little appetite for controversy before his appointment in 1990, with a career was marked by almost constant success at Watford and Aston Villa.


[ image: Taylor: Expletives]
Taylor: Expletives
Things started well, before going wrong at the European Championships of 1992, when he upset the nation by substituting Gary Lineker during his last international.

Qualification for the 1994 World Cup became a disaster and results eventually forced him out.

But the compelling TV record of that campaign shows much about his state of mind, which can hardly have inspired confidence at the FA's Lancaster Gate headquarters.

The programme saw him use one particular expletive 38 times as he railed against players and officials, while giving the nation the delightful catchphrase, "do I not like that".

Bobby Robson: Chose his moment (1982-90)

Taylor had been forced to cope with being likened to a turnip in the national press, and vilification by the tabloids was also a feature of Bobby Robson's time.

"In the name of God, go," demanded one paper during England Euro 88 disaster. "England Mustafa new manager" was another gem after a draw in Saudi Arabia.

His eventual departure to the Dutch club of Eindhoven was greeted with "PSV off, Robson".

But the former Ipswich manager had the last laugh when he took his side to the 1990 World Cup semi-finals, and even the press had to admit that he had done a good job.

Ron Greenwood: Happy retirement (1977-82)

Robson's predecessor Ron Greenwood enjoyed the most peaceful departure from the job of any manager of the modern era.

He was over 60 by the time he decided to retire after the 1982 World Cup, the first successful qualification in 20 years.

Unlike Hoddle, Greenwood also waited before his departure before writing a book.

Don Revie: Took money and ran (1974-77)

Greenwood took over from Don Revie, following a short period of consolidation under the caretaker leadership of Joe Mercer.

Like Greenwood, Revie also departed of his own accord - but in far more controversial circumstances.


[ image: Revie: Shock departure]
Revie: Shock departure
In 1977, he took a big money move to coach in the United Arab Emirates at a similar stage of his England career to Hoddle's.

The team were unlikely to qualify for the 1978 World Cup and the former Leeds manager felt the job was not worth the aggravation.

Revie had been unable to transfer his successful club career to the international stage and like Venables the press were claiming he had financial skeletons in the cupboard.

Sir Alf Ramsey: Past catches up (1963-74)

Ramsey might have been the first England manager to win the World Cup, but he was also the first to experience the press turning against him.


[ image: Ramsey: Enemies]
Ramsey: Enemies
The glory of Wembley in 1966 had turned to the embarrassment of a 1-1 draw with Poland in 1973 as England failed to qualify for the 1974 tournament.

The World Cup win protected him for years in the press and also from enemies at the FA.

Many believe a conspiracy formed almost from the day of his appointment in 1963, when Sir Alf insisted on picking his own team.

Until then a selection committee had decided who wore three lions on their shirt, but Ramsey antagonised many when he refused to go along with this.

They waited for their revenge and got it seven years after he had guided England to their greatest triumph.

Walter Winterbottom: FA man (1946-62)

The experience of England's first manager is hardly relevant almost four decades on.

He remains the longest-serving incumbent having done the job for 15 years.

Winterbottom was spared criticism from the press and must be regarded as an FA man who became manager, rather than a manager who joined the FA.

Yet even he did not get it all his own way and was denied the job of FA Secretary in 1963.



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