England Caps : 2
Goals : 0
Player : 1964
Manager : 1993 - 1996
Assistant Manager : 2006 -
Terry Venables took over as England manager after Graham Taylor’s tenure ended with the disappointment of failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the USA. He was a popular appointment with all but the football bureaucracy who were concerned about his non-footballing activities. In fact, he had been widely expected to take over the England post after Bobby Robson stepped down in 1990, but doubts about those activities had led the FA to choose Graham Taylor instead.
Success as a Player and ManagerVenables had been an outstanding midfielder at Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Queen’s Park Rangers and finally Crystal Palace, graduating to the manager’s position at Palace. He holds a strange record, that of being the first player to represent England at all possible levels, schoolboy, youth, amateur, under-23 and the full team, achieving two caps while being tested for a World Cup squad place under Alf Ramsey.
Managerial success at Palace and then Queens Park Rangers led him to the hot seat at Barcelona, where his three years saw Spanish Cup and League successes and a runners-up spot in the European Cup. He then took over at Spurs and had mixed results before being appointed to the England post.
England ExpectsAt the time he was bullish about putting the fun back into the national side, and that winning matches was the best way to do that. His target was the European Championship of 1996, which, as it was to be hosted in England, meant no qualifying matches. This was a blessing and a curse, as the team could prepare without pressure from any direction (except the media, of course) but also were not able to test themselves under real-life competitive conditions.
Even so, although there were quite a few draws, England only lost one match in the friendlies before Euro 96, and that was against the newly crowned World Champions, Brazil (although they were losing 0-1 to the Republic of Ireland when the match was abandoned because of crowd trouble). The most worrying effect was that their main sources of goals, Alan Shearer, dried up on a diet of friendlies. With the exception of Teddy Sheringham, the goals were coming from the midfield, with David Platt, Paul Gascoigne and Darren Anderton delivering in the games immediately running up to the tournament.
Opening NervesFears were dispelled in a nervous tournament opener against Switzerland, when Shearer scored for the first time in twelve matches, 1,043 minutes without a goal. Unfortunately England couldn’t kill the game and Switzerland equalised with a penalty just before the end.
Battle with ScotlandThe second group game, against Scotland, was a much-improved England performance although the first half was a rather dour battle of two strong midfields. At half-time Venables demonstrated his tactical guile, opting to switch a defender, Stuart Pearce, for the creative midfield influence of Jamie Redknapp, and getting wingers Darren Anderton and Steve McManaman to swap sides.
The effect was immediate and Shearer found the net on 53 minutes, but again a penalty award gave the opposition the chance to equalise. But this time it wasn’t taken, England keeper David Seaman saving Gary McAllister’s shot with his elbow as he dived the wrong way.
This proved to be the turning point and a few minutes later Paul Gascoigne, possibly on the verge of being substituted, flicked the ball over a defender and volleyed it into the net to make it two-nil, scoring one of the best goals ever seen at Wembley.
Orange DemolitionThe next game showed even more improvement, with Venables again showing the results of his skill in motivation, coaching and analysis of the opposition as England annihilated Holland 4-1 to go through to a quarter-final against Spain. It seemed that the match against Holland had taken something out of England because they couldn’t get it going against Spain, eventually progressing via a penalty shoot-out, the only one that England have ever won in a competitive match. That led to a famous semi-final against Germany.
Germany Once MoreIt started brightly, with Shearer heading in Gascoigne’s corner on the second minute, but that galvanised Germany, and Kuntz equalised twelve minutes later. The two teams then locked in a titanic struggle, Germany better in keeping possession but England creating more clear-cut chances, but there where no further goals, and penalties decided the game after extra time. Every penalty was scored until Gareth Southgate, who’d had an amazing tournament in defence, stepped up to see his saved by the German keeper.
Venables must have felt crucified but his first task at the final whistle was to try and console the inconsolable Southgate. Interestingly he obviously decided that his best team was on the pitch, as this was the last time that an England game was completed without any substitutions being made. It proved to be Venables’ last game in charge as well.
Demons Surface AgainAs with his playing career, off-pitch matters had often tainted his managerial career, and the FA’s uncertainty about Venables caused them to appoint him ‘coach’ rather than ‘manager’ in 1994. His dealings with the boardrooms of clubs such as Spurs and Portsmouth, along with the shady activities at his night-club owning companies had come under increasing scrutiny in the lead up to Euro 96, and Venables had announced that unless the FA decided to fully back him, he would resign after the tournament.
That backing never came and so, after delivering England’s best European Championship result, Venables left the job and went on to a series of not particularly successful club and international appointments. Now back in the England camp as Steve McClaren’s assistant, it remains to be seen whether he can help England to glory once more.