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ONE of Bahrain’s most colourful football coaches who experienced a roller-coaster ride in charge of the national team is back managing in the fifth tier of English football.
Peter Taylor, who famously named David Beckham as captain for the first time during a one-game spell as England’s caretaker manager and led Bahrain to two regional trophy successes, has taken over at Dagenham and Redbridge.
Former Premier League manager Taylor, as reported in GulfWeekly, only found out that he had been axed from his post in Bahrain after his wife Jenny spotted a note that he had been sacked on his Wikipedia entry, and now faces a tough campaign leading a London club in severe financial difficulty.
“Every time we take the field, we’re going to try to win the match, but I’m being realistic with our overall aims,” the 65-year-old told local newspaper, The Barking and Dagenham Post. “I’m being honest and, realistically, to stay in the league is the first priority, which supporters might not want to hear and I know they might say we should instead aim for the play-offs. However, I’m very confident that we’ll have a good, young, committed team that they’ll be quite pleased with.”
Having achieved so much in football, both as a player and a manager, Taylor could have opted for a simpler life than taking on the Daggers job. But after nearly a year out of the club game after leaving his post as Gillingham director of football, the former Leicester City boss is thrilled to be back involved in the game he loves.
“I probably did think I would end up at a higher level than the National League, but I’ve said all along that I’m very fortunate that 95 per cent of my working life has been involved in football and at all levels,” he added.
“I loved working at the highest level and with the absolute best players with the best pitches and best equipment, but I also enjoyed my time at clubs like Dartford and Dover Athletic and other clubs where things are not so right and you have to adjust yourself.”
“That’s the situation we’re in at Dagenham, but I’ll guarantee I’ll be as committed as I’ve ever been and I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.”
Taylor’s illustrious career in football spans nearly 50 years and counting. He enjoyed his longest spell with one club at Hull City and led them to back to back promotions from the Football League Two and One in the 2003/04 and 2004/05 seasons reaching the heights of the Championship before leaving in June 2006.
The experienced manager has seen five promotions with four different clubs including the likes of Brighton & Hove Albion, Gillingham and Wycombe Wanderers.
Taylor came unstuck in Bahrain after a lacklustre goalless home friendly match against a Philippines side and a thumping 6-2 defeat in Dubai. Bahrain appeared to be on the receiving end of a backlash from the opposing players insulted by an ‘outrageous smear’ after the UAE’s team was labelled ‘sand monkeys’ in an article on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) website which set off a wave of criticism.
The AFC swiftly said it wanted to ‘apologise for any hurt this might have caused’ to soccer officials and fans in the UAE. It was too late for Taylor and his Bahrain team, many of whom had only played a couple of games at the start of the season, and friendly fixture or not, they were no match for their fired-up opponents.
Despite being ahead twice during the game the final result was never in doubt once the UAE equalised. Bahrain’s defence collapsed and leaked four more goals.
Shortly after the debacle, GulfWeekly contacted Taylor for his reaction. He replied: “My wife has ‘Googled’ my name and on Wikipedia it says I’m sacked. I’m trying to find out what’s happening. I’m very much in the dark.”
Within days it became clear that he was indeed dismissed by the BFA despite having nine-months left on a two-year contract. He added: “I understand it is about results but I also understand football and there has been lots of reasons for our recent results and performances.”
Taylor had not always been positive about the attitude of his players. He was so embarrassed after the national team’s pitiful showing in the end-of-season Arab Cup of Nations tournament that he apologised to fans saying they were more interested in going home early than winning.
However, he earlier led Bahrain to success in the first GCC Games and clinched football gold in the 2011 Arab Games in Doha.
Despite the disappointment of losing his job, Taylor kept his promise to train a group of children at the British School of Bahrain. He also thanked BFA officials for giving him the opportunity of being head coach.
Bahrain’s senior men’s national football team, now under the supervision of Miroslav Soukup, have travelled to the Czech Republic for an overseas camp in preparation for their upcoming major international tournaments, including the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2019.
Bahrain has been drawn in Group ‘A’ for next year’s Asian Cup alongside tournament hosts UAE, India and Thailand. Bahrain will be featuring in the inaugural match in the 43,000-capacity Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on January 5 against their neighbours.
“I am very happy that we are playing the opening game,” Soukup said. “It will be a very good chance for us as everyone will be focused.”
The camp in his home county will last 20 days. “It will be very hot here but the weather will be perfect over there and we can have training twice a day,” he explained before departing to Europe.
On the team’s return the plan is to schedule eight to 10 friendly matches. “We have already begun communicating with several federations in our region and across Asia on the possibility of a friendly game,” he added. “It will be important for us to play some matches with teams who employ similar styles to those of the UAE, India and Thailand.”
Ironically, Soukup could call Taylor for some insight into one of those teams. The former national manager had an unhappy spell coaching the Kerala Blasters. Taylor left the club by ‘mutual decision’ in what was the first managerial sacking in the Indian Super League’s young history after they lost their fourth match in a row.