Among the strikers Graham Taylor was considering bringing to Watford in the summer of 1978 was former leading scorer Billy Jennings.

Sold to West Ham four years earlier for a club record £115,000, Jennings had a knack for being in the right place at the right time and some attributed that to his determination to avoid the hefty physical challenges dished out by defenders in and around the box.

Aided by a spring-heeled jump, he attacked the ball at unexpected places but, although he was prolific, Taylor liked his strikers to be very industrious and brave. Billy was not in the front row when either of those qualities were handed out.

Graham was prepared to accept one shortcoming but not the other, as evidenced later when he signed Malcolm Poskett, who was not the bravest or the most physically involved striker but was busy and scored goals for fun, as did Billy.

Another player Graham seriously considered that summer was Andy Ritchie of Morton, who scored a searing goal in the pre-season 5-1 victory over the Hornets in 1978. Graham was very interested but his subsequent research revealed that Ritchie, who was then 22, had fallen out with Jock Stein at Celtic and been shipped out to Morton.

There was a further problem, which Taylor suspected but was prepared to tolerate if the player was prepared to meet him halfway. Ritchie, not to be confused with the Oldham player of the same name who played later in the century, was always to carry too much weight. As evidenced by his clashes with Stein, Ritchie did not listen to advice or instruction and followed his own instincts.

Graham was perceptive in seeing Ritchie’s potential for the player finished top scorer in the Scottish top-flight that forthcoming season but the Scot, who was to hit 133 goals in 246 appearances for Morton, was not Taylor-made. He went on to be known as the King of Cappelow Park over his seven seasons with Morton but his biography provided another clue as to why Graham shied away from Ritchie for he was also dubbed The Idle Idiot. Later he was to appear in the book Flawed Geniuses; Self-destructive Mavericks.

It could be said that Taylor took on board a few mavericks in his time – players who did not toe the line and were more into the playboy or alternative lifestyles – such as George Reilly and Mo Johnston – but he also took risks with players who were perceived as rotten apples in some quarters, such as Tony Coton, who always played hard off the field but applied himself on it and was always grateful for Graham’s faith and backing.

Taylor was to find the answer to his striker problems closer to home. Ross Jenkins, who he had all but dismissed from his striker equation, became the highest goalscorer since Cliff Holton and Dennis Uphill with 37 goals in 58 appearances that season. Holton, who hit 48 in 53 outings alongside Uphill (36 in 52) back in 1959/60, was to say as he presented Ross with the Player of the Season trophy at the end of the 1978/79 campaign: “Your achievement was better because it is harder to score goals nowadays.”

While Graham was still looking for a player with more football intelligence than Luther Blissett, the striker came on as substitute and scored two goals six games into the season against top-flight Newcastle United in the League Cup at Vicarage Road.

Taylor annoyed diehard fans by failing to praise Luther’s achievement: “I have seen it all, before. He is capable of occasional games and moments but I want to see consistency.”

Luther responded to the manager’s coaching, the challenge and the seemingly natural, intuitive partnership with Ross, by weighing in with 28 goals in 48 outings and finished third to second-placed Ian Bolton in the Player of the Season voting.

Taylor was delighted and would always treasure his relationship with the striker who, at one stage, had been set to be handed a free transfer. Tom Walley advised Graham against the decision, made by the previous management. Taylor, in his first weeks at Watford, took his advice, saw the potential and admitted he would gladly pay to see Luther run.

So the answer to his striking problems were there in front of him so, in effect, Graham was fortunate that he did not bring in an expensive striker or two.

It could also be said he did not learn from the experience because he continued to underrate Jenkins’ potential over the entire journey to the top flight – at one stage he put him on the transfer list at £100,000 and, when there were no takers, farmed him out to Ken Furphy in Cleveland for six months.

Truth be told, they had a slightly uneasy relationship although Jenkins has always praised Taylor’s achievements. More on that later in the series.

Confidence is a marvellous and often the most determining quality in football. Luther’s heading ability was totally random but after he connect lethally on two occasions in the League Cup at Old Trafford that season, he became feted as a superlative header of the ball – much to his own surprise. He then grew into his reputation, as a result of the confidence gained.

So Graham had accidentally hit upon the finest partnership if you take the durability of it into consideration. Holton and Uphill scored more in a season but Luther and Ross carried on for four more seasons.

However, one should not overlook the fact that Graham brought the best out of the twosome. While Ross was a player known for his intelligent and unselfish running, Luther had to learn how to curb his habit for being caught offside.

Taylor, who admitted he loved working with forwards, worked on their scissor-cross-over movement, which worried and tormented the opposition defenders, and both strikers owed much to the accuracy of Bolton’s passing.