As Watford became established in the First Division, Graham Taylor continued to look for the quality of striking partnership that would replicate the understanding of the much-loved Ross Jenkins-Luther Blissett pairing.

He had recalled Blissett from AC Milan and soon after that offloaded George Reilly to Newcastle United. He then pulled off a surprise move by recruiting Colin West from Sunderland.

I had a good relationship with the Newcastle and Sunderland press corps, developed over the years but when I suggested Graham had made the move because he needed a goalscoring partner for Luther, they pointed out that West averaged about a goal every five games. He was a line-leader not a goalscorer.

Yet Graham was spot on with his recruitment of West, who more than halved that goalscoring average at Watford with 23 goals in 56 outings (20 in 45 in the league). Here again, Graham had seen the potential of what Sunderland regarded as a journeyman striker and turned him into a goalscorer.

But during that period, Graham had long-earmarked his ideal striker recruits - Gary Lineker and Alan Smith. This little and large combination had caught Graham’s eye over several seasons. That in itself is ironic. Graham had no luck in recruiting either of the players and was pipped by Everton and Arsenal, but Lineker would cross his path when Graham took the England job.

Lineker was subsequently very dismissive of Graham, because the manager had effectively ended his England career when he substituted him in the famous European match against Sweden.

Graham believed Lineker was a finisher rather than a creator and, noting the England side was not creating chances, opted to change the line-up in an effort to increase creativity. So Lineker was not happy, yet, had Taylor had his way, Graham would have managed Gary at club level at Watford.

The spotting of Lineker’s early promise was another example of Graham having an eye for a player. Not all his signings paid off. But while he wheeled and dealed, he was relatively conservative with his signings.

Back in 1981, when he stated it was about time Watford were moving on, he was actually sensing the club was on the brink of a promotion bid.

He had spent well on Pat Rice, Les Taylor and Gerry Armstrong the previous season yet he opted not to spend any money during the summer prior to what proved to be the promotion season. Just after the campaign was underway however, he brought in Jan Lohman, who proved to be a good addition to the squad, providing midfield options and cover for workaholics Kenny Jackett and Les Taylor.

He was not the perfect player because of his tendency to wander around the field, leaving gaps, which distorted the team’s shape, but at £35,000 he proved to be a good investment.

It could be argued that Armstrong at £250,000, who was later sold to Real Mallorca for £200,000 was not as successful as Graham expected. When he made the triple signings of Taylor, Rice and Armstrong, I recall talking to Sam Ellis, then first-team coach.

“You know the signing the boss is really thrilled about? That’s Gerry. He loves forward signings and he sees him as ideal,” Sam told me.

Graham was so convinced he had bought the new partner for Blissett in the second tier, he eased Jenkins out, finally settling for an unofficial loan deal with Washington Diplomats. However, Armstrong’s five goals in 29 outings did nothing to suggest he was the goalscoring answer.

When Ross finished his loan spell and returned “ready to play my part” he climbed above Gerry in the pecking order and finished the 1981-82 season with 15 goals in 39 outings while Gerry, chosen as substitute for 17 of the outings, finished with 10 goals in 44 appearances.

Armstrong went on to record Watford’s first-ever goal in the top flight but did he justify the club’s then record fee? Probably not but if his arrival galvanised Jenkins and gave Watford forward options, who is complaining, particularly as Gerry’s term also covered promotion from Division Two and second place behind Liverpool the following season.

Gerry proved the ideal substitute, coming on and changing the dimensions of play with his surging runs. “He played his part. He would come on and would carve a groove down the centre of the pitch,” said Ross. “He was very direct and let no one get in his way. He upset opponents by being so physical and determined.”

Gerry did well but I always felt Graham was a touch disappointed he did not harness the Irishman to better effect.

Graham believed the 1982 World Cup and Gerry’s heroics against Spain had stayed in the mind of the striker who was seeing the Iberian peninsular as his next destination. So the Watford boss accepted the Mallorca offer. On balance, Gerry was an effective cog in the Watford system that rocked the top two tiers, but he was not the essential cog that was expected.

No manager can get everything right and we need look no further than Sir Alex Ferguson, who signed some below-par goalkeepers and notably indifferent midfielders in an attempt to replace Bryan Robson and Paul Ince.

In 1985, Graham signed Brian Talbot to captain the side but was to be disappointed with the former Arsenal man’s vision as a skipper. Ellis, Dennis Booth and then Rice knew what Taylor wanted and would make adjustments on the field if there was a weakness. Talbot made 59 appearances, scored eight goals and worked hard but he was never as good a captain as Rice, nor as effective a midfielder as Les Taylor.

The decline of Les was noted with sadness by Graham. He appreciated how the midfielder would run himself into the ground every game. “Sadly for the little man, his legs are going. He still gives everything but he can’t do it anymore. I find that really sad,” Graham admitted.