England's Wembley fixture tonight with San Marino immediately evokes memories of the Three Lions' performances under Graham Taylor in the early 90s. They made for such car-crash television that they became a car-crash TV double bill with the timeless Do I Not Like That.
A fly-on-the-wall documentary filmed and broadcast by Channel Four, it followed England's World Cup qualifying campaign for USA 94 under Taylor and captured the strain of managing the national side. Knowing they didn't qualify, you can imagine how bad it would have reflected on Taylor. Only it was worse.
Featuring Phil Neal on yes man form, dodgy facilities, terrible tactics, Paul Gascoigne blaming a football and Carlton Palmer, this was the programme which spawned Mike Bassett: England Manager, only fiction couldn't reflect this chaos.
Taylor deserves huge respect for agreeing to the documentary. He wanted to give the public an insight into what it was like inheriting a job he had inherited in 1990, having already presided over a woeful Euro 92 campaign.
San Marino were England's final opponents as they bid to qualify for the World Cup. The chances were already remote after a 2-0 defeat to Holland in the penultimate match as they needed to win by a seven-goal margin. But even though Taylor's team would batter their hosts 7-1 in Bologna, it is still synonymous with farce.
Davide Gualtieri's opener after 8.3 seconds, thanks to Stuart Pearce's clownish backpass, encapsulated the slapstick nature Taylor's era had become synonymous with. The manager himself summed it up best: "When the ball went into the net, I looked up towards the sky and just said quietly to myself 'God, please tell me what I have done wrong.'"
The scoreline was irrelevant. Holland had beaten Poland 3-1 to qualify for the World Cup along with Norway as England missed out for the first time since 1978.
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