Sheringham shows his nous

Ken Jones admires a forward's mind but finds England's strip a sight for sore eyes
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The Independent Online
From his seat in the stand Terry Venables could see things developing promisingly. Playing with intelligent purpose England had gone a goal up and if Bulgaria were not entirely committed to the task there was already a lot from which the England manager could draw satisfaction.

Mostly, you imagined, the play of Terry Sheringham. The Tottenham attacker has come in for a lot of unjustified criticism. Sheringham does not possess Les Ferdinand's pace, Robbie Fowler's predatory instinct nor Stan Collymore's power, but he will surely partner Alan Shearer in the European Championship this summer.

Apart from impressive technique, his ability on the ball and mobility when turning, Sheringham's principal asset is intelligence. When dropping off to receive passes he can call upon the vision and accuracy of a creative midfield player.

An abiding mystery is why Brian Clough sold Sheringham to Tottenham when still manager of Nottingham Forest, a decision considered to have been largely responsible for Forest's subsequent relegation.

Sheringham's steady development as an international player confirms Venables' judgement of him, the move to Tottenham, incidentally, still under investigation.

It was Sheringham's perfectly weighted long diagonal pass that set up Ferdinand's first goal in more weeks than his club, Newcastle United, are finding comfortable.

It was not long before Sheringham almost provided Ferdinand with another. A sharply turned pass from the half-way line released the Newcastle player on a powerful run but this time he lost control of the ball when bearing down on goal.

Slow thinking caused England to stray offside when attacks were developing nicely and the dribbling that makes Liverpool's Steve McManaman a constant threat in the Premiership was usually smothered when it looked like being productive.

Bulgaria were never hesitant about putting a foot in - one nasty challenge left Ferdinand in extreme pain - but their football generally lacked conviction.

Yordan Lechkov sparkled intermittently, reminded us that he was impassive presence in the 1994 World Cup finals, but at Wembley last night there was not enough at stake to bring more out of him.

Certainly, Venables seldom had reason to fear for an experimental defence that coped confidently with the problems Bulgaria caused occasionally.

A disappointment however for England's manager was his team's failure to capitalise on second-half possession and to make the best of many shooting opportunities.

When they should have been comfortably in front England were almost left to rue untidy application in front of Bulgaria's goal. Emil Kostadinov missed from close in after stealing behind Steve Howey and on the stroke of time a scoring shot from Kostadinov was disallowed for handball.

A word now about the colours in which England turned out. Whoever devised the colour scheme described officially as indigo blue/grey should be held in custody for questioning. Against this background the red numbers were barely distinguishable. This will now be England's change strip.

When forced to change for the 1966 World Cup final England wore red and made the colour famous in their history.

Normally they would turn out in white, but these days with all sorts of curious embellishments.

The colours England's goalkeeper, David Seaman wore made him look like a fugitive from the circus. They are almost impossible to describe.

Who at the Football Association makes decisions about these things? A thought is they should be booked in to an opticians.

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