Venables savours a feast of talent
After the B international, the England coach has an even longer list of in-form strikers. Guy Hodgson reports
Thursday 15 December 1994
Tuesday's 2-0 victory in the B international against the Republic of Ireland at Anfield hardly helped clear the picture. Andy Cole scored in his first match under Venables and had an air of menace every time he touched the ball, while Nick Barmby and Robbie Fowler also looked sharp - albeit against a tiring Republic of Ireland defence. Only Chris Sutton failed to show his club form, and even then the Blackburn player had a integral part in Cole's goal.
Given that Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Stan Collymore, Teddy Sheringham and Matt Le Tissier are also around, the queue to make the front two places in the senior team is beginning to resemble the Saturday evening scramble for lottery tickets. Not that Venables looked like the man next in line as the Camelot computer called time.
"Everybody wants to play," he said. "They want to be involved and it is my job to select the right people. You can have seven players on a par but you can only pick three or four in any squad and it's going to come down to my preference. If there is a big difference between the form of players it makes my selection easier, but if they are all fighting at it the decision becomes harder. It's a problem I'm happy to have."
Indeed, Venables had reason to be content across a broad spectrum. Sol Campbell moved forward from his normal position in the back four to look Savile Row measured for the role of midfield anchor, while Tim Sherwood had a commanding match in the centre of the pitch. The wingers, Ruel Fox and Jason Wilcox, too, barely put a foot wrong.
"They all played well," Venables said. "It was very encouraging. You can get hit with lack of form or injuries and it's nice to know you can call upon people you know are ready. It's difficult that jump, mixing with fresh faces, trying to form a rapport with people you don't play with week-in week-out. You have got to have a special personality."
Looking forward to the European Championship finals in 18 months' time, he said: "I am not far away. I'm very happy."
Indeed, just about the only thing to take the edge off a valuable exercise was an attendance of 7,431, which would have been fewer still if there had been different opponents. The Irish anthem was sung by the majority of the crowd while "God Save The Queen" was played out to near silence. The contrast could hardly have been starker than with the record attendance of 25,000 at Newcastle for the Under-21 international last month.
St James' Park has not had too many big matches played on it since the Seventies, and Liverpool's home match two days previously and the imminence of Christmas were not designed to push the numbers up. But the overwhelming impression was that the public failed to tap Venables' enthusiasm for the fixture.
Put B after England and, in some parts of the country, the response is going to be "so what".
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
Latest in Sport
Tottenham to use controversial blood-spinning technique to speed Jan Vertonghen return
World Cup 2014: Football Manager developers predict the team of the tournament - but which England player makes it into the XI?
Roy Keane omits Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs from 'greatest' Manchester United team
Napoli 2 Arsenal 0 match report: Nightmare in Naples leaves Arsenal to battle giants
Transfer news: Wayne Rooney sparks Manchester United exit rumours after rejecting new contract talks - reports
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 3 Australia: Gay marriage law reversed by high court less than a week after first weddings
- 4 Exeter to Edinburgh and back in a day: How one fresher's lost bet left him facing a 900-mile round trip
- 5 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
£44999 - £60001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top Tier firm i...
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Cornwallis Elt : Support Developer - Digital, Medi...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: This global consulting firm work...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: English te...