The other day the Hull City twitter wished Peter Taylor a happy birthday. The club are very respectful of former alumni and it’s always nice to see. However, me being me, had to post the above picture. Why? Well…a few days earlier when wishing Steve Bruce happy birthday several fans proclaimed big Steve as our greatest manager. Now, this isn’t a piece of writing aimed at putting Brucey in the mud, far from it, he took City beyond the heights we thought we’d peaked at under Phil Brown and he deserves an awful lot of credit for this, however I still think that without Peter Taylor, Steve Bruce is never at the club, Phil Brown may not be either and certainly neither manager would have had the base to build such impressive achievements . Put succinctly, I’m dying on the hill of saying Peter Taylor is our greatest modern manager and here’s why I think it…
Firstly, I honestly don’t know if either one of Bruce or Brown could have overseen a revolution of football like Taylor did in the fourth level, and a culture change that we are still reaping the rewards of now, twenty years later. In fact, if you’re a late twenties City fan, you’ve never really known much apart from success (barring some baron years under our former owners and even then, it really was bread and water for about a year in reality, results wise) however for City fans of a certain age, pre-Taylor years, we were either pathetic (see Dolan), heroic failures (see Little, B) or full on car crashes (see Hateley). Nobody post-Horton could really seem to change the direction of the ship for long. Now, that’s partly down to some turgid ownership and again credit where it’s due Taylor had Adam Pearson and those who invested in him, so he did have a really strong infrastructure around him.
Others however like Molby before and Phil Parkinson afterwards would fail spectacularly with the same regime at the helm, so what was the big difference? Taylor was pretty scarred after an ignominious exit at Leicester, their fans rushed to tell us in technicolour detail just how bad he’d be, but history would show that Hull City was the perfect vehicle for him. He brought in some experience around him in the marvellous Colin Murphy, and targeted his transfers for young and promising players who could be coached and wanted to develop. Thus, we saw the likes of Bo Myhill, Damien Delaney, Ben Burgess and Ryan France arrive. He also got the best out of what was already here with players like Ian Ashbee, Stuart Green and Stuart Elliott stepping into increasingly pivotal roles. Then, between Taylor and the owners, he got the mix right and by adding Premier League ability like Nicky Barmby.. a transfer we could never have dreamed to have secured. PT put together a heady mix of steel and flair and this City team would play in his vision with both.
What was it that Taylor had that others didn’t? There’d been investment in other eras and the same City sides had still came up short. That’s probably easier answered by some of the players at the time but as a fan City were suddenly a clinical and physical team who would put teams to the sword quickly and without mercy. I remember being at places like Kidderminster, Northampton and Cheltenham, often venues that we’d be embarrassed at and suddenly it was City as the tormentors. We were organised, everyone knew their role, and we counter attacked better than most City teams I’ve seen before or after. If you came at us, City would soak it up and players such as Allsopp, Green, Barmby, Fagan, Burgess or Price would rampage up the other end and put games away in short shrift.
Pragmatic managers aren’t always universally loved and I always thought we were slightly less appreciative of the success Taylor produced. Sometimes, his approach wasn’t always pretty and with the style we played it could sometimes backfire. I remember one Christmas getting an underserved 2-2 draw at Crewe and we played horribly. Billy Painter scored an absolute screamer and this less papered over the cracks and more threw two tons of cement at it. The fans weren’t happy and let the management know it. Again, Taylor wasn’t Bruce with his softly spoken Geordie humbleness, he spoke as he coached, to the point, very clinical, unemotional and every bit an Essex boy. This perhaps didn’t endear him to those who like to be wooed. But to me, Taylor was honest, and exactly who he said he was. We’d had decades or grifters, apologisers and those who pertained to know what was best for the club, they were all wrong, Taylor knew what was best for our club and he showed it on the only place that mattered, the pitch.
We still seem to irk the football community with our presence as a club (see the last 24 hours by signing a player on loan from Liverpool). The whole name of my blog is a reference to the times bang average, won nothing, two-bit club fans cry about losing to the “likes of Hull” and I really do believe that this Taylor team is a major reason why we still get it. Not many fans could remember the early seventies or mid-eighties when we were a decent side, so when we went from playing Carlisle to Norwich City in two seasons, we weren’t embraced with open arms, teams were incredulous that they were losing to us. This bizarre notion of having “no history” being wheeled out like it was either accurate or relevant by acne strewn message board virgins. The Taylor teams of 2003-6 were the catalysts for these wonderful implosions which we can still all enjoy up to the present day.
Two promotions and then a season of consolidation in the second level was far more than any of us would have hoped for when PT first arrived as the latest saviour of our beleaguered club. Sure, he had the new stadium buzz and some decent investment, but when you look back at the amounts, they really weren’t outrageous for the era. There was a plan where there hadn’t been one before and those plans were executed beautifully. Even Peter Taylor’s exit was typically understated, he left to join the club who he played for in his pomp in Crystal Palace and to return to his native Essex, he went in the summer, with plenty of time to rebuild and in terms of playing staff with a strong basis for success. No fanfare, no strops, just professionalism and grown up behaviour.
After Phil Parkinson tried his best to ruin us with ice baths and lack of personality Phil Brown would then have us in the Premier League within two seasons, something that never ever happens without one Peter John Taylor. City opinions are free of course and by all means plenty of you won’t agree, but for me Peter Taylor was the greatest modern era, post Premier League manager this club has known and this is why.
Thanks for reading. UTT.