England v Italy predictions: OTP talks to Terry Venables
Although the FA are famously allergic to him, Terry Venables remains closely nestled in many an England fans bosom. He was the man who squeezed the last drops of genius out of Paul Gascoigne and almost seduced football to come home at Euro 96.
Since that unforgettable summer, the former Spurs manager has never been short of a word or two about the national team. Off The Post’s Stuart Dalmedo caught up with him at the abode of his current employers, non-league Wembley FC, and asked him about England’s chances of victory on Sunday evening.
Venables, eyes sparkling, said: ”Well I’m not going to go against England! What I’m saying is that it’s easier to say, not so easy to do.
“I understand that puts more pressure on but, to be honest, I think that we’re capable of beating Italy, and you’ve got to believe you can then go all the way.”
After asking what he made of England’s overall performance so far, Venables launched in to a stream of consciousness more tangled up than Andy Carroll’s barnet post-mosh pit.
He enthusiastically chirped: ”I think you’ve got to be pleased that we’re getting the victories. You can’t pick and choose.
“I think that people often say to me, ‘Well what do you prefer? Good attacking play or defensive play, hard work?’ Well’ I just say, ‘I don’t want to choose: I want both.’ ”
”You’ve got to have both, because some games you’ll be up against it and you will need to really defend against good, top opposition, and if you can get forward and make opportunities, that then gives you the opportunity to win the game, if it’s a tight game.”
With the full knowledge of El Tel’s disdain for Fabio Capello’s England tenure, we prodded the sore subject by asking whether the Italian would deserve a chunk of credit if the Three Lions went the whole way.
Venables snapped back: ”I wouldn’t be thinking about individuals, it’s a team game. They’re all a team together at the moment, they’re all out there thinking as one and that’s the only way it can be.
“If you start losing your concentration, you won’t win. But if we can get our thinking exactly the same, then play good, I don’t see any reason why we can’t.”
We haven’t thought too much ahead about Roy Hodgson’s next move after coaching the Three Lions, although we heartily hope he follows in at least one of Terry’s post-England footsteps – a pop at an England World Cup song.
With his effortless charm and gentlemanly persona, we recommend for Roy a subtle jazz number with Gary Neville on the ivories. Here’s one Venables made earlier…