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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 May, 2003, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Taylor sold short
By Phil Gordos

Graham Taylor is a big fan of a vibrant youth policy
Graham Taylor is a firm believer in a vibrant youth policy
Aston Villa fans were split down the middle when Graham Taylor was appointed manager for a second time 15 months ago.

There were those who thought the 58-year-old would be able to reproduce the success he had generated in his first spell at Villa Park.

In just three years, he took the club back into the top flight and then guided them to second spot in Division One, an achievement that sealed his elevation to the England job.

But for just as many supporters there were dissenters, those who thought Taylor's time had passed and his kind of management style belonged to a bygone era.

Wednesday's shock resignation does not really answer any questions on that score.

Sure, Villa endured a miserable season, eventually finishing just two places above the relegation zone, although the threat of demotion was never a real one.

But the club was in a mess when Taylor took over the reigns from John Gregory, who, like his successor, caused shockwaves with an unexpected resignation.

Several players were unhappy with life in Birmingham, while the team needed an urgent overhaul after years of underachievement.


It was always going to take several seasons to turn things around, even if the exploits of David Moyes in his first full season as Everton boss will not have gone unnoticed in the Villa boardroom.

To make matters worse, Taylor was given precious little money to effect any changes.

He spent 5m on beanpole striker Peter Couch, who has so far failed to deliver, and another 2m on front-man Marcus Allback, who is finally showing signs of a revival.

But it hardly represents the kind of sums needed to make a big impression in the Premiership world.

Taylor was, as the saying goes, forced to work with one hand tied behind his back.

Yet if there was ever a man capable of bringing the good times back to the club on a shoestring budget, it was the former England coach.

A great believer in the nurturing of young talent, he regularly employed striker Stephan Moore and defender Rob Edwards this season while Pete Whittingham, Stephen Cooke and Liam Ridgewell were also been given a taste of the big-time in recent weeks.

Alpay has expressed his desire to leave Villa Park
Alpay has constantly expressed his desire to leave Villa Park
There were others to come into the senior fold as well.

The main problem Taylor faced was offloading those players who had either become surplus to requirements or were such a disruptive influence they needed to be discarded as a matter of urgency.

Chief among them were the disgruntled Alpay, the wantaway Juan Pablo Angel, the misfiring Bosko Balaban and Moroccan misfits Mustapha Hadji and Hassan Kachloul.

To undertake an effective clearout was always going to take time, especially if pressure was being exerted on Taylor to generate a fee for any of the above.

As Taylor himself conceded in his resignation statement, he "had always believed that last season was going to be one of transition, particularly in respect of emerging young players".

Not so long ago, Villa were touted as one of the big-five clubs in English football.

But repeated failings have left the West Midlands giants as Premiership also-rans, hanging grimly onto past glories, like the European Cup success of 1982 and the double Worthington Cup triumphs of the 1990s.

Maybe Taylor was not the man to get Villa fans cheering again, but his departure after just one full season at the helm is hardly proof that he would have come up short.

Graham Taylor
"Certain aspects of the club had to show an improvement if I was to stay"

Was Graham Taylor right to quit Aston Villa?
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Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


The management merry-go-round
14 May 03  |  Football

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