Football: Venables defends right to take risks: England coach warns of future experiments before he finds settled side

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The Independent Online
TERRY VENABLES yesterday filed his first end-of-term report with the succinct, but heartfelt promise: can do better.

While his first three matches have all shown the new coach has the potential to master the European Championship finals which England hosts in 1996, there are still a lot of lessons to be absorbed. 'I'm not saying we're there yet, but this is capable of being a good team,' he said, summing up after two wins, one draw and no goals conceded.

Venables warned that England could expect a few more disappointments like Sunday's failure to exorcise the Norwegian bogymen before he finds a settled team.

He has already used 21 players in the wins against Denmark and Greece and Sunday's 0-0 draw. But there are others he wants to see - Andy Cole, Robert Lee, Matthew Le Tissier from the start of a game, plus Les Ferdinand and Stan Collymore - and other systems he wants to try before he settles on a distinctive strategy.

'Next year I will risk trying a few things at the expense of results,' he said candidly.

His immediate record in restoring national morale after Graham Taylor's World Cup failure, plus no need to qualify, have earned him that luxury. He said: 'The fans now know we're capable of getting results.

'We've done it against one side who are European champions and two who have qualified for the World Cup. That's the sort of standard we've set.

'You have got to see a lot of players before you make your mind up - but once you've done that, you don't move much outside that. My next job is to get the right fixtures to go about it.'

England have yet to fix even their first opponents next September, the first of four games Venables wants before Christmas; many countries are waiting until after the World Cup to finalise their arrangements.

But he confirmed that he intends to make full use of the four free weekends he has been offered by the Premier League for preparations.

Venables was upset not to have beaten a stubborn Norwegian side on Sunday. But he will assess his 1996 opposition during the World Cup confident that he is developing a team which will prevent another humiliation.

He named Graeme Le Saux, Darren Anderton and Kevin Richardson as three early bonuses and added: 'We've played three different types of team - a physical side like Norway who have strength with height, the Greeks who were quick and nimble, and the Danes who were a mixture of both.

'We're not a defensive side but we kept the concentration at the back and we've had three clean sheets. If you can do that, you can win games.'