Soccerex European Forum – Manchester (March 2012): The Tricky Business of Managing England

Day 2 – Thursday 29 March 2012

11:45 – 12:45            The Tricky Business of Managing England

  • Jeff Powell (Daily Mail) [Moderator]
  • Terry Venables (Former England Manager)

    L to R: Terry Venables and Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell started the session by providing a brief resume of the career of Terry Venables. As a player, Venables started at Chelsea, before moves to Tottenham, QPR and briefly at Crystal Palace. In terms of management he had successful stints with Crystal Palace, QPR, Barcelona, Spurs and England. He also holds a unique record in having played for England at every level, Schoolboy, Youth, Amateur, Under 23 and Full International.

Q: How did Terry Venables win an England Amateur Cap?

TV: He was about to sign professionally for Chelsea but heard he was in line to be selected for the Olympic team in 1960 and said to the manager Ted Drake that he wanted the opportunity to take part. In the end Venables wasn’t picked, but in the meantime was selected and played for the Amateur side against West Germany at Dulwich Hamlet.

Q: What is Terry Venables role at Wembley FC?

TV: Venables replied that he is at the stage of his career where he can pick and choose what he is involved in. This project involves him preparing the team and mentoring the Wembley coaching staff in preparation for a game against a team of ex-professionals.

Q: Is the England job an impossible one?

TV: The problem with it is the weight of expectation that comes from the whole country, including fans and the media. It is a problem not only for the manager but players too, who have to be prepared and mentally tough to deal with the pressure.

Q: Is it difficult not having a ‘day to day’ routine as an international manager?

TV: He didn’t consider it an issue, if the time was used properly. Venables added that when he was in the post it provided valuable ‘thinking time’ to consider options. For example he worked closely with the then captain Tony Adams and vice-captain, David Platt in providing a different way to play. As leaders they took this on-board, and their strong leadership was important in situations when things weren’t going well. Players who were fearless and willing to accept responsibility was a key thing during Venables time as England manager.

Q: Are players today less willing to ‘accept responsibility’?

TV: Players have a more ‘comfortable ride’ at their clubs, where they are often idolised or worshipped by the fans. The familiarity of the club situation is not there at international level. The pressure at club level (i.e. in trying to win the League) is different to that when playing for your country.

Q: Manchester City or Manchester United for the title?

TV: Venables believed that Mancini had done a fantastic job at City, especially having to deal with the Tevez situation, given that it was played out in public and not behind closed doors. However, the experience of having been in this situation before will see United take the Premier League crown.

Q: What was it like taking the Barcelona job?

TV: Barcelona had not won the title for 11 years so there was immense pressure. Maradona had left for Napoli and Steve Archibald was brought in. Winning that first game against Real Madrid in the Bernabéu 3-0 set the tone.

Q: Was that experience invaluable in the England job?

TV: Venables thought that there was a dogma about the team played at the time and coping with a change both from a playing and mentality perspective was difficult. Getting a good start was important and he won his opening game against (then European Champions) Denmark at Wembley.

Q: Is the lack of English players in the Premier League a problem?

TV: You deal with what you have. The England 1966 team wasn’t necessarily packed with World class players, but they were tough minded and were able to adapt as the tournament went on. It is important to have a clear vision and get the players to ‘buy-in’ to it. People talk about creating a ‘club-spirit’ at international level, but what does that really mean. Winning is everything.

Q: What is the thought process for team/squad selection?

TV: As a manager you need to have a clear vision in the way the team should play. However, it should be adaptable. You need to be able to take players beyond what they think they can achieve. Venables was greatly inspired by the Dutch and their way of playing. When England beat Netherland 4-1 in Euro ’96, Guus Hiddink said it was the only time he was out-thought in a game. Venables added though that at Euro ’96 as Head Coach it was also a case of having the right people around you and not just ‘yes’ men.

Q: Why didn’t he carry on as England manager after Euro ’96?

TV: Essentially it was down to the contract. Venables believed that the Board was weak and this lead to uncertainty over his future contract. The FA would not offer a deal that would see him through to the World Cup, so that was that.

Terry Venables (England Manager 1994 - 1996)

Q: Who was the best England player Terry Venables managed?

TV: Without doubt Paul Gascoigne. Venables said that ‘Gazza’ had it all, but it was evident back then that football was his life and that the problems he has had after football are no surprise.

Q: What happened when Terry Venables returned to assist Steve McClaren in 2006/07?

TV: Whilst accepting that it didn’t work, Venables was glad that he had done it. He added that there were seven key players out that night, but at the end of the day it was not good enough.

Q: Would Terry Venables have changed tactics at 2-2 in that game against Croatia in November 2007?

TV: The momentum was with England and there were still 25 minutes to play. Venables said managing England is an ‘old man’s’ job. André Villas-Boas had had one good season at Porto, but had no experience of losing and how to deal with it.

Q: Does Terry Venables think that foreign coaches should manager England?

TV: Venables said that he was old-fashioned and that whilst he thought it wasn’t an issue at club level, an international manager should be ‘one of your own’. Jeff Powell added that no international team has got to a World Cup Final with a foreign coach. Venables added that the patriotic pull is important, but will be interested to see if Harry Redknapp is offered the position, will his salary be as high as that of the two previous ‘foreign’ English managers. He added that Redknapp was the main candidate, but the situation has dragged on too long. Valuable preparation time has been wasted.

Q: Does Harry Redknapp have the necessary skill-set?

TV: Redknapp does have the necessary skills, but Stuart Pearce has tournament experience with the England Under 21’s and knows the set-up. Roy Hodgson also had international experience with Switzerland and Finland, so maybe was in the frame as well.

Q: What did you think of Fabio Capello resigning?

TV: He said that Capello should have gone after the World Cup in South Africa (2010) and couldn’t understand why he carried on. Venables believed that Capello never really got culturally involved in the job and therefore was not able to understand his players individually – it seemed a relationship from afar.

Q: If offered the job will Harry Redknapp definitely accept it?

TV: Not sure. It is the right thing to do given that Spurs are in a good position and have had such a great season.

Q: What is Terry Venables view of the current players, given that the ‘Golden Generation’ didn’t deliver?

TV: Venables responded that we should be positive, and that any generation of players is a ‘Golden’ one.

Q: If there was no decision by the start of Euro 2012 and Terry Venables got the call, what would he do?

TV: Venables said that it was not going to happen, so there was no point in answering. Although did add, he would think about it.

Q: Has Terry Venables been too long out of the game to return to management, in as much as the issues Kenny Dalglish seems to be having after having 10 years away from a managers post?

TV: Sometimes absence makes the heart grows fonder! However, accepts that it would be hard and wouldn’t return if he didn’t think he could do a good job.

Q: Is Harry Redknapp the leading candidate for the England job?

TV: The country is behind him. The majority want Harry – he is the popular choice and is the supporters’ choice. However, supporters shouldn’t make decisions.

Q: Is the talent available to England better now or worse than when Terry Venables was England Manager?

TV: The squad was not in a great state when he took over after England had failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup (USA) and he managed to get them to Euro ’96 Semi-Finals. Believes that there are some good players in current squad.

Q: Is the England job able to be done on a part-time basis with a club job?

TV: No, the job is simply too big to be done part-time.

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Posted April 6, 2012 by Editor in category "Soccerex 2012

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