Aston Villa had just been relegated from the Premier League and the club desperately needed a new face to bring them back into the top flight
The club’s fortunes had dropped dramatically, having won the European Cup five years before, and Graham Taylor was exactly the manager they needed.
He took over Villa in his first season, and former player Garry Thompson has revealed how Taylor made such a dramatic impact.
Discussing Taylor on an episode of the Claret & Blue podcast, due out later this month, Thompson said, “He was the perfect guy.
“Doug (Ellis) calls a meeting and we’re all in the canteen. ‘Gentlemen, can I introduce you to the next manager of Aston Villa,’ he said with a huge smile on his face.
“Graham Taylor then barged in through the door and immediately said, ‘Okay so, the first thing you’re going to throw at me is who is he? Where did he play? and what has he done in his career? I played in Grimsby Town and Scunthorpe and got injured when I was 28. Now let’s talk about you!
Thompson then went into the details of the X talk Taylor gave to his new players, who were in desperate need of a wake-up call as Villa floundered through the former Second Division.
The first in the line of sight was international defender Tony Dorigo. Thompson added: “’Dorigo!’ He said, ‘can you say you’ve done your best for Aston Villa this season? So how come you made a deal with Chelsea over Christmas? “
“He just started picking people, and Graham seemed to know that people had dug their own drainage holes at this point.”
Taylor then turned his attention to Thompson himself, accusing the forward of having more bookings than goals this season.
He was also injured when Taylor arrived – and he was quickly told to withdraw from the reunion as he was “no good to him” if he couldn’t play.
Thompson added, “I could see people laughing as they left and I was like, ‘They don’t realize this guy isn’t playing games! He may not be pleasant, but he is exactly what we need ”.
But it was the next day that Thompson realized how serious Taylor was about changing attitudes around the club. He arrived at the training ground, where Taylor waited in his suit as he watched Warren Aspinall return to his car. When Thompson questioned Aspinall, he replied “good luck” and left.
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Taylor then told Thompson he was dressed inappropriately for work, adding, “If you come to work you come in pants and a shirt or a tracksuit. It’s your job. Now get the hell out of it. home and bring some supplies to come to work.
Thompson assumed he meant the next day, but Taylor insisted it happened immediately. From that moment on, he knew things had changed.
He explained, “This geezer didn’t play games. I was injured but saw the way they were training and what he (Taylor) required of them.
It’s no surprise that Villa enjoyed a rapid rise under Taylor – from promotion in his first season to safety and then to second in the former Premier League in his third season in charge, the change has astronomical summer.
Thanks to his efforts at Aston Villa, Taylor was offered the position in England, which came as no shock considering the fantastic job he had done there.
The harsh but seemingly fair team speech he gave in the canteen that day changed the culture of the club and propelled Villa on an upward trajectory that no one could have predicted before he arrived.
Link to other episodes of the Claret & Blue podcast below …
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