Millichip surprised by Inter offer to Venables

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Sir Bert Millichip, the chairman of the Association, expressed surprise yesterday that Internazionale had made an approach for the England coach, Terry Venables.

Venables turned the offer down, but Sir Bert, preparing to accompany the England squad to Norway this week, said: "I did not even know an approach has been made. I shall make no comment until I have spoken to Mr Venables, though if the facts are as reported there may indeed be no cause to speak to him."

Venables made it clear that there was no question of him walking out on England. "I happen to believe in loyalty and honouring contracts," he said. "The FA showed a lot of faith and courage when they appointed me... they have stood by me through thick and thin since. So there was never any chance I would break my contract to take the Inter job."

Venables was approached three weeks ago, while on holiday in Spain. The offer was made by a representative of Massimo Moratti, the Anglophile president of Inter who has just sacked Ottavio Bianchi. "What he said was: 'For any money, would you be able to leave now?'," Venables said.

"It was very flattering to be approached by such a big club, I have to admit, but I made it clear to Inter that I was under contract to the FA until the end of the European Championship next year and that I intend to see the job through."

Meanwhile Gary Pallister, one of Venables' certain starters in Wednesday's friendly, has recalled with horror the last time the two sides met. No one suffered more humiliation than the Manchester United centre-half as Graham Taylor's World Cup campaign disintegrated in Oslo.

Asked to switch wide to mark the Sheffield United striker, Jostein Flo, Pallister was dragged all over the Ullevaal Stadium while the rest of the team ran the England rearguard ragged. Jostein is missing through suspension, but his younger brother, Thore-Andre, is certain to play.

"This is the chance to exorcise a few ghosts," Pallister said. "Going back will evoke a lot of memories of that night. It was a really poor performance and virtually put us out of the World Cup. It was one of the worst performances I can remember, and my worst experience for England.

"We had no cohesion, we never got to grips with the game and they deserved their win. We changed our system, but ended up playing to their strengths and ignoring our own."

Jack Charlton's problems continue to mount ahead of Wednesday's crucial European Championship qualifier against Latvia in Dublin, after Liverpool's Phil Babb and Sheffield Wednesday's John Sheridan were added to a lengthening Republic of Ireland injury list. Babb has been ordered to pull out of training for the next two days after aggravating a toe injury, while Sheridan has a knee injury that will be examined by a specialist before he can be considered.

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