Football: `Old guard' oppose Venables

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The Independent Online
Terry Venables is facing a hostile reception from Australia's football establishment over his appointment as national team coach.

An Australian newspaper's survey showed that two-thirds of national league coaches oppose his hiring for Australia's 1998 World Cup campaign ahead of a domestic candidate. The view is shared by several former internationals and one former national team coach.

The criticisms, centred on the decision to allow the former England coach to spend most of his time in London, prompted a stern reply from the man who gave him the pounds 200,000-a-year job.

"It's a shame that we have some negative comments from the old guard... they are critical because we did not choose a local," the Soccer Australia chairman David Hill said.

"Are they seriously suggesting that we should not have picked the best coach available and overlooked him for a locally based coach?" Hill said on his return from London, where he recruited the former Barcelona and Tottenham manager.

Venables is also determined to prove wrong sections of the British media, who have questioned his decision to join what they regard as a second- rate football nation, Hill said.

"Terry Venables has made it clear that there is nothing he would love more then to meet England in the World Cup and beat them, for professional reasons of course." Hill said.

A straw poll in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday showed eight Australian national league coaches opposed the appointment, four backed it, and two were undecided.

"Someone is taking us for a ride, someone who clearly doesn't understand the game," the Marconi coach Manfred Schaefer said. The former Australia coach Frank Arok described Venables as not "a team leader".

A common theme among the dissenters was concern that Venables would still live in England, where he will oversee Australia's 100-plus overseas-based players, for the duration of his 19-month contract. Under the terms of the deal, Venables will take charge for all of Australia's home and away internationals.

The former Notts County forward and now Brisbane Strikers coach Frank Farina is one of Hill's supporters. He said: "Venables will open a lot of doors for the game."

Venables, who resigned as England coach after guiding them to the semi- finals of Euro 96, will take control of Australia for the first time in a four- nation series against Norway, South Korea and New Zealand in January.

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