Venables agrees to disagree

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It is not often that Terry Venables envies Dietrich Weise, the coach of Liechtenstein, but this week he can appreciate his counterpart's fortune - and not just in living in a country where taxes are as low as expectations.

After most England games the team head straight back to their clubs. Most of them are not seen again by the national coach until the next squad meets, often a month or more later. In Liechtenstein, who gained their first ever point, against the Republic of Ireland on Saturday, the players meet every Monday night to train with the national coach.

Of course they are part-timers, but at least Venables has his squad for a fortnight this time, and he yesterday took advantage by holding a lengthy debriefing on Saturday's disap- pointing 2-1 win over Japan at Wembley.

All squad members, from the young and newly capped, to the experienced, took part and Venables is hoping for a better performance against Sweden at Elland Road, Leeds, tomorrow, as a result. "We are looking forward to it. I know we can play a lot better," Venables said.

Alan Shearer, who had looked jaded at Wembley, said: "I just put it down to a bad day. We did not play as well as we would have liked. It has been a long and sometimes tiring season, but we have had two weeks' rest so that is not an excuse."

Shearer also noted that "no one seems to have mentioned that we won the game", but Venables said: "I expected the criticism but I can deal with it. I am only interested in next summer, I have got to bear all the hysteria in between. I have already got grey hair and bin-bags under the eyes, so it won't affect me. I agree with a lot of it."

His real concerns at present are Gary Pallister, whose rib injury stubbornly refuses to heal, and Darren Anderton, who tweaked a knee on Saturday.