Positive points to savour

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The Independent Online
Terry Venables, England's coach, was happy to accentuate the positive after last night's performance. "Overall I think it was a positive game for us tonight," he said. "I haven't seen any other country make five good chances against Croatia like we did."

Venables denied that his tactical line-up, involving three at the back, represented an experiment. "We are not experimenting at all. We have been going towards this for 18 months, and I was very pleased indeed with the way the players adapted.

"If the opposition played three up, we will have four back. But it depends on what your opposition do. There's no point in having two players spare at the back, and your midfield getting run ragged."

Venables could not recall his exact reaction when Robbie Fowler put the ball over the bar after 70 minutes, but he made it clear that Fowler need not despair of making an impact at the European Championships, now just three friendly matches away.

"I thought he did all right," Venables said. "He had a couple of chances he would normally have stuck away if he was playing for Liverpool. But that doesn't worry me. Whatever you say about how mature he is, he is only 20 and it was his first game at Wembley so he was bound to be a little bit nervous.

"He's a super young player and he's going to be terrific. He can be happy with tonight. He's got his first game under his belt and I think it's done him good.

However the Croat coach, Miroslav Blazevic, felt that England had not gone far enough in adapting to the modern game. "England have got to get rid of the British style even more," he said. "They were too predictable and once we neutralised Teddy Sheringham it meant that they were too sterile as well.

"We know that Sheringham is the spirit of the team but we had our policemen on him in Slaven Bilic and as a result he was absolutely neutralised. The thing with England is that 80 per cent of their moves still end in crosses.That has been the way for half a century on this island but goalkeepers more than anybody else in the game, have progressed in the last few decades and such an approach has become less effective."