Category: Archive

Soccer Scene In Venables, Middlesbrough boast EPL Messiah

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Joe Behan

Middlesbrough are now unbeaten in seven matches since Terry Venables arrived as head coach. Alen Boksic hit a brace, while Ugo Ehiogu and Hamilton Ricard got on the scoresheet in a 4-0 victory over Derby at the weekend. Big win for Boro, and another clean sheet. With 15 minutes to halftime, Derby began to settle, but a few minutes before the break Boro got a controversial penalty and went on to play some good football.

The penalty decision could be considered another lucky break for Middlesbrough and Venables. Liverpool’s Gerard Houllier also described Boro’s win over his side as lucky.

The Middlesbrough fans would probably agree with Houllier, because Venables is being hailed as the Messiah of Middlesbrough. When the crafty Cockney arrived at the club, Boro were bottom of the table with 11 points from 17 games and without a win at home. So beating Liverpool and Chelsea at home, plus draws with Spurs and Leeds, should not be overlooked as luck.

Whatever ingredient the Messiah is adding, luck or otherwise, it worked for Hamilton Ricard, who scored a sensational winner at Bradford to put Middlesbrough into the fourth round of the FA Cup. Unbeaten now in six games under Venables, Boro’s odds may shorten for the Cup, as they are at home to Wimbledon or Notts County.

It’s naive to see Venables as being lucky and controversial. It would serve other coaches well to recognize that Euro ’96 is back on home soil in the EPL. The one contingent that really wants him back are the players. Four members of the Venables/Robson team made Euro ’96 All-Star team. Paul Gascoigne, David Seaman, Steve McManaman and top scorer Alan Shearer were among the 18 players named by UEFA. Sol Campbell, Les Ferdinand and Paul Ince also had outstanding performances under the then Messiah of England’s national team. But like many other scenarios, Tel Boy vanished and in stepped Glen Hoddle, way too early and way too young.

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It is more interesting to see Venables hook up again with Bryan Robson and Paul Ince at Middlesbrough. The trio were doing it big time in Euro ’96 with a little help from Gazza. The interesting element in this combination is the Manchester United influence. But in this case the Utd. vets are second to one of the most experienced coaches in the game. In 1986, Venables coached Barcelona to the European Cup final only to be beaten by Steaua Burharest on penalties. Then in ’96 El Tel was to go into the depths of bad luck with another penalty loss to Germany in the semifinal. Venables went to take charge of Australia’s attempts to make the 1998 World Cup. The Aussies eventually lost out to Iran in the playoffs and yet more disappointment for El Tel. Nonetheless, his influence on soccer Down Under, where his soccer and golf resort is based in Andalucia, is now evident in Europe and the EPL. Two national posts and a spell with Barcelona have to be respected. But there is that something about Venables that seems unanswered. While controversy will never disassociate itself from the Londoner there is a lot more to the Terry Venables story.

Soccer mercenary?

The dramatic return of Venables to the EPL has the look of a fly-by-night written all over it. He will be paid £750,000 for six months to keep Boro in the Premier. His associations with Portsmouth and Crystal Palace left many stones unturned. His dismissal from White Heart Lanc, seven years ago, left Tottenham fans and players in the dark. He refused a long-term contract with Middlesbrough because the start of next season he will work with Des Lynam when ITV takes over Match of the Day. Venables was persuaded by his friend and colleague Bryan Robson to come to Boro. But Robson admits he did not pursue Venables, because he wants his mentor there for one year, not six months.

Well, at the moment money is not the motivation for El Tel, that is for sure. It makes more sense that he is back on English soil to take care of unfinished business, international more than club. He has his enemies and begrudgers, so he just cannot help getting into these twisted stories. He is definitely leaving himself wide open for major criticism if he fails at Boro. He has certainly cheesed someone off at the National level. But he still has some friends who want him back on the scene and these are the people who give the insight needed to know El Tel.

His game against Spurs was a trip down memory lane where he reunited with his great friend George Graham. Both have been through the mill with their careers in English football but both remained supportive of each other and their beliefs in the game. Graham gave Venables the chance to break the time he spent forbidden to enter White Heart Lanc, the club he played for and coached.

Just a crafty Cockney

Going back even further, the boys were part of the rebellious ’60s, when they roomed at Chelsea. After training, the lads would venture into Denmark Street in and around Tin Pan Alley and the offices of Mills Music. A messenger boy who worked the offices at the same time was Elton John.

Maybe it was the tea they drank that made them such highlighted characters. The rebellious adventures of El Tel during his Chelsea apprenticeship lays the insight for who he has become today. He is simply just a Crafty Cockney very much like Eric Bristow. Maybe it’s because he is a Londoner.

What he is able to do to make teams play was evident in Boro’s 1-nil victory over Chelsea when his side passed well with good movement. Boro’s work ethic and tactical discipline that day had his coaching trademark all over it. But it is what he says about the game that undermines whether he is a mercenary or not.

Venables says that there are two kinds of bravery. One is about the basics of tackling and heading, the other is to have the bravery to want the ball. There is only one component needed and that is hard work. He claims that he is like everyone else in any walk of life.

"It’s hard to say no when it’s what you do, says the Messiah." "Bryan Robson is the future for Middlesbrough, the question is whether I am the present."

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