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RIP Terry Venables – the most brilliant football intellect

I know this is a West Ham site, but I feel we have to talk about Terry Venables.
There are distinct facets to Terry Venables. One of them stands out as arguably the most brilliant football intellect ever produced

RIP Terry Venables – the most brilliant football intellect

by England, not merely confined to the memorable Holland game at Euro 96 where he outplayed them at their own game. My admiration extends to the 1991 FA Cup semi-final, a vivid football memory writes Michael Talbot.

RIP Terry Venables – the most brilliant football intellect

Please indulge me……In that season, George Graham’s Arsenal was intimidatingly dominant, losing only one league game. Both Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds and Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn would later win the title with a long-ball style, facing humiliation in Europe. After the ban, English club football lagged behind, as evident with the national team under another long-ball advocate. However, Spurs stood out. Their second goal that day surpassed the more celebrated first; Gascoigne’s flick sending Allen wide was exquisite and almost supernatural.

Tottenham showcased genuine continental football that day, earning praise even from Jimmy Hill. This occurred against a backdrop where many believed winning the FA Cup was imperative for financial survival. Against the Dutch five years later, despite England’s initial defensive struggles,      Sheringham’s deep play proved pivotal, pulling the Dutch central defenders out of position.

The Netherlands, overrated as they were, demonstrated the Dutch men in disarray rather than the brilliance of Ajax. Yet, no other Englishman could have orchestrated such a display. In the semis, England displayed overwhelming strength at times, unfortunate not to progress. However, this must be balanced against the lacklustre first game against Switzerland, a dreadful first half against Scotland, a quarter-final where Spain felt robbed, and Kuntz’s disallowed goal in extra time.

Venables’ failure to achieve more in the game, despite possessing knowledge and impeccable man-management skills, could be attributed to his own distractions—engaging in various business deals or extracurricular activities, never fully committing for extended periods. Despite his tactical prowess, he didn’t win as much as his abilities warranted.

Could he have fared better than Glenn Hoddle at France 98?

Possibly.as Hoddle had tactical acumen but lacked man-management skills. England thrived under Venables, being young, settled, and happy. Yet, off-pitch problems prevented his continued tenure. Venables’ involvement with various clubs, including Tottenham, Portsmouth, Crystal Palace, and Leeds, seemed to bring them to the brink of oblivion. This cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence.

Even when he left Palace initially, he took a significant part of their team with him, leaving the club in a weakened state for years. Despite his undeniable coaching prowess, Venables left a trail of victims, making it challenging to view him as the harmless, cheeky figure many perceived.

Nevertheless, his coaching brilliance and football intellect were unparalleled in English terms. The tragedy of his life lies in his inability to accept excellence in one field without entanglement in others, leaving behind lingering “what if?” scenarios. Despite the controversy, he brought joy and wonder to millions of people, players, and fans.

 Rest in peace, Terry.

About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

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