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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
No laughing matter for Taylor
Peter Taylor
The end is nigh: Taylor sees Leicester lose at Charlton
By BBC Sport Online's Mark Barden

It's sometimes the odd little details that give fans an insight into a football manager's character.

With Peter Taylor, it was his penchant for Norman Wisdom impressions.

Perhaps the media played it up a little, but apparently his cries of "Mr Grimsdale!" always raised a laugh from the players.

It conjures up an image of an affable man, of a boss well-liked by his staff - but is it the image of a potentially successful Premiership manager?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and plenty of Leicester fans will now be saying of Taylor was a good coach but not top-flight managerial material.

The former Spurs and Crystal Palace winger certainly proved his coaching credentials during a highly-successful spell in charge of the England Under-21 team.

He then did a good job at Gillingham, taking the Kent club into the First Division, via the play-offs, for the first time in its history.

Another good season at Priestfield would have added to Taylor's status as one of the best managers outside the Premiership.

Tall order

But, at the age of 47, he understandably seized the chance to test himself at the highest level.

Replacing O'Neill was always going to be a tall order, but Taylor made a dream start, with Leicester seldom lower than fourth for the first two-thirds of the season.

Matthew Jones was a Leeds reserve when he was signed by Taylor
Matthew Jones has been unable to fill Lennon's shirt
His relationship with his players was good, he was honest and patient with the media, and his success won over most of the Filbert Street faithful.

Most but not all - some fans grew impatient with their team's over-reliance on defence, lack of creativity in midfield and dearth of goals up front.

Taylor was not helped by the growing belief that Leicester's stay near the top of the table was no thanks to his signings.

With one or two exceptions, notably Gary Rowett, he bought poorly.

Many fans felt the 17m-plus acquired from selling Emile Heskey to Liverpool and Neil Lennon to Celtic was squandered.

So when Leicester faltered in the league then again, famously, in the FA Cup against Wycombe, they slumped into a spiral of poor form and plunging confidence.

Started badly

It was then that Taylor's limitations were exposed as he was unable to inspire his team to halt a decline of embarrassing proportions.

Most fans were prepared to let give him another chance, but then their team started the new season as badly as it finished the last.

It was ironic that Junior Lewis, booed by his own supporters, was red-carded in Taylor's final match in charge - the 2-0 loss at Charlton.

Junior Lewis is red-carded at the Valley
Lewis sees red against Charlton
The former Gills midfielder was seen by those fans as the epitome of lacklustre signings Taylor thought could cut it at the top.

On the day after his dismissal, he was still claiming the prices he paid were realistic - but would you pay 5m for striker Ade Akinbiyi?

More importantly for Leicester fans, would O'Neill have paid 5m?

Ultimately, only an improvement on the Irishman's record at Leicester was ever going to save Taylor from unfavourable comparisons.

With a new 32,000 capacity stadium taking shape, and Premiership football needed to fill it, Taylor was never going to be given the leeway he felt he needed this season.

He may yet find success outside the Premiership, and possibly as part of Sven Goran Eriksson's England coaching set-up.

As for Leicester's new manager - the fans won't care if he's nice or not as long as he keeps City in the top-flight.

Links to more Leicester City stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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