Venables attempts to forge Dutch masters

Football

CLIVE WHITE

Terry Venables may wear his heart on his sleeve when England host this summer's European Championship finals, but his head will rule in all things emotional. It is the lesson he learned from his bitter experience at Tottenham and the reason why he will not change his mind about resigning as coach, whatever the outcome in June.

Emotional pressure from Tottenham fans had tempted him into the ill-fated partnership with Alan Sugar and he would not make the same mistake again. "At Tottenham I made a heart decision not a head decision and I got over- stretched trying to repair my own damage," he said candidly. "I vowed then that I would always make decisions in future with my head. Once is a mistake, twice is foolish."

Even being back among his players this week at England's training camp at Bisham Abbey has failed to prompt a U-turn. But when it comes to football tactics Venables has never been averse to a change in direction, which is what he intends to make in the case of Euro 96.

If you can't beat them, join them, seems to be his attitude. Consequently the three-day get-together with his players down by the Thames this week was not so much about all things English as all things Dutch.

The Netherlands, whom they play last in their group, could stand between England and the latter stages of the finals, if not ultimate victory itself, and Venables believes that if they are to remove that obstacle they will have to beat them at their own game.

Hence the decision to base much of this week's practice and theory on how to counter the unique threat of Guus Hiddink's side and, at the same time, give the opposition a taste of their own medicine. Like the Dutch, Venables has been concentrating on playing with just three flexible defenders as opposed to the popular English ploy of three centre-backs while deploying a central attacker with two wide players to stretch the opposing trio.

It all sounds uncannily like the old "WM" formation, but we are reliably informed that it is, in fact, revolutionary. Of course, it's going to take more than Tony Adams in dreadlocks to play like the Dutch and Venables emphasised the need for English players to prove they can be adaptable. "I always believe every time you go up a notch, you've got to achieve more things," he said. "If you're going to play against world-class players and world-class thinkers you've got to open those minds up."

Apparently, it wasn't all double Dutch to the players, who seemed to take on board the new ideas. To a certain extent, some of them, such as Aston Villa's Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu, are already familiar with the tactics, while Sol Campbell and Gary Neville have proved their versatility at Tottenham and Manchester United respectively. "I got a very good feedback," Venables said.

Copying Dutch masters, whether it be Van Gogh or Van Basten, is, of course, easier said than done, as Venables would be the first to admit. "Apart from Barcelona under Cruyff, I don't think anyone in the world can play the way they play," he said. "There must be a reason for that because people like to copy success. You've got to know it exactly right. I think in certain areas you could actually improve on it."

A clear case, if ever there was, of the heart ruling the head.

Italy beat Wales,

Last night's results, page 23

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'