It wasn’t until after the Second World War that England officially appointed managers to take charge of the English national team. Previously, FA functionaries and committees picked the squad. The selected players simply had to turn up at the arranged venue and play.
Aside from a pre-match kick-about coaching, training and management was practically non-existent. Club managers, such as Arsenal revolutionary Herbert Chapman, did advise the FA and brought about some sort of structure, but were never given an official post. How things have changed.
In that early period, the FA achieved 138 wins, 37 draws and incurred 51 losses. Quite an impressive return for a governing body with no determining head. So we’ll use that as a standard by which to determine the worst English managers of all time
Graham Taylor’s managerial ascendency was quite remarkable. Taylor guided Watford to promotion from the Fourth tier in his second year at the club. A year later he achieved promotion again. By 1983, Watford was in the First Division and a year later narrowly lost in the FA Cup final against Everton.
In spite of his success, Taylor was often criticized for his direct style that was based on the premise that the further away the ball was from his own goal, the more chance Watford had of winning. It was a style that was quickly found wanting as his team entered Europe for the first time and the team suffered heavy defeats in the competition.
Despite broadening his horizons slightly at Aston Villa, Taylor’s approach never converted well to the top-flight.
It was a similar story as he turned his hand to international management. As England manager, Taylor struggled to qualify for Euro 92, narrowly doing so in the last game of the group against Poland. In the tournament, however, England failed to win a game, drawing 0-0 against France and Denmark before being dispatched 2-1 by the hosts Sweden.
Taylor managed to win only 18 of his 38 games, drawing an astonishing 13 times.
The Wally with the brolly.
Following successful spells coaching at Manchester United and managing Middlesbrough – taking the Teesiders to the UEFA Cup final, McClaren became the less than popular replacement for the outgoing Sven Goran Eriksson. The dull, defensive style of football he had become known for at Middlesbrough had won him no fans, but he was seen as a steady figure by several pundits to guide England through a relatively easy European qualifying group.
After a 5-0 win over Andorra in their first group game, England began to look shaky. Although McClaren managed a 1-0 win at in Macedonia, England drew the home tie in an abysmal performance at Old Trafford. England then failed to win their next two games against Croatia and Israel. After making a u-turn over the David Beckham question, the wheels finally came off in consecutive defeats against Russia and, once again, against Croatia. In the shortest run of any permanent English manager, McClaren had managed to win just 7 in 12 games.
Putting McClaren’s meager win percentage in the shade, Kevin Keegan managed only 4 wins in 11 competitive games and has by far the worst win percentage of any manager in the England’s history.
Despite the popularity surrounding his appointment in 1999, Keegan’s lack of tactical nous quickly began to show. His remarkable turnaround at Newcastle won him several plaudits, despite defying all logic. However, his brief spell at Fulham should have demonstrated to the FA how incapable the Geordie messiah was when it came to tactical knowhow.
Even though Keegan managed to beat Germany in England’s second group game of Euro 2000, 3-2 defeats to Romania and Portugal sent England on their way home from the finals in disgrace.
Keegan, typically, resigned from his England post after beginning the 2002 World Cup qualification with a 1-0 defeat to Germany. It was a poignant match that signaled not only the end of Keegan’s reign but also the end of the FA’s insistence that the national teams managers should be English; it was also, of course, the last game played at Wembley.
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