Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An Insight into The Life & Times of Terence Fredrick Venables - alias ‘El Tel’

His resume lists amongst its particulars:
International footballer, football manager, football coach, businessman, TV pundit, big band crooner, board game inventor, author........the list is extensive & somewhat impressive to say the least!

However the list could be construed as being somewhat misleading, as in between the ‘glorious achievements’ is a man who is shall we say less than whiter than white - where there lies a sleepy, somewhat bumpy undercurrent beneath the surface!

Venables has the reputation of an archetypal rogue with his cockney charm & beguiling smile.

Venables in his favourite role, (right) that of cockney wideboy.

He is a man as at ease in a tracksuit as he is in a tuxedo.

As a manager his tactical prowess is regarded as being of the highest class & he is famed for his ability to motivate players into producing their best.

Born in Dagenham in January 1943, Venables began his playing career at Chelsea, making his debut as a 16 year-old, captaining the team a year later & going on to make over 200 appearances.

He made his England debut in 1964, winning two caps as a 21 year-old before moving to Tottenham, where he spent three years before moving back west to join QPR, & then south to join Crystal Palace.

Having retired as a player he then returned to take charge of Crystal Palace, taking over from Malcolm Allison in 1976, when they were in the old Third Division & guiding them into the top flight as Champions of Division Two, in the 1978/79 season.

He then returned to take charge of QPR, guiding them to a Wembley Cup Final in 1982 & to the Second Division title the following season.

His success in charge of two London clubs did not go unnoticed & he attracted the interest of a number of clubs both at home & abroad.

In 1984, recommended for the role by Bobby Robson he was appointed manager of Spanish giants Barcelona, earning the sobriquet ‘El Tel.’

During his three seasons in charge of the Catalan club ‘El Tel’ led them to their first Spanish League title in eleven years, won the Spanish League Cup & took them to the first post-Heysel European Cup Final, which they lost on penalties to Steaua Bucharest.
He was sacked in September 1987 after failing to follow up his title success at the Camp Nou, along with the humiliation of losing home & away to Dundee Utd in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup.

A month later he was appointed manager of Tottenham Hotspur.
Despite an FA Cup win in 1991, this was unable to paper over the ensuing cracks as Venables tried & failed in a £20m bid to purchase the club, before taking a role 'upstairs' as chief executive of the club following Alan Sugar’s successful takeover battle against Robert Maxwell.
A clash of personalities between the two saw Sugar dismiss Venables in November 1993 leading to lengthy, acrimonious & very tedious court cases & subsequent investigations into Venables's financial/business dealings.

The following year Venables was back in the hot seat, this time as manager of the England national team.
Terry’s style seemed perfectly suited to international management & he seemed to have the presence & charisma that could re-ignite some national pride & achievement.
On home soil & subsequently riding on that patriotic crest of a wave, Venables led England all the way to the semi-finals of Euro 96, before losing to the eventual winners Germany.

Venables then resigned in order to fight more murky & tedious court cases, effectively signalling the end of his credible coaching career.
Venables is the only England manager ever to resign from his post because of his muddy personal details relating to financial irregularities. He is also the only disqualified company director ever to be indirectly accused of accepting bribes to sign players, while also being in a courtroom battle with Tottenham Hotspur.

A web of complex accusations & counter-accusations seems to have followed Venables wherever he has managed in recent times.

So what went wrong?

At the age of 17 Venables had made himself a limited company, one whose stated aim was 'to exploit the talents of Terence Venables.'

But what are those talents exactly?

As we are aware Venables has dissipated his energies into countless business ventures, most notably with English football clubs, QPR (as Managing Director), Tottenham Hotspur (as Chief Executive) & Portsmouth (as Chairman). However, on 14 January 1998 he was disqualified by the high court from acting as a company director for seven years under section 8 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 for mismanagement of four companies - the London drinking club Scribes West Ltd, Edenote plc, Tottenham Hotspur plc and Tottenham Hotspur Football and Athletic Company Ltd. The case was brought by the Department of Trade and Industry who cited instances of bribery, lying, deception, manipulation of accounts & taking money that should have been given to creditors.

In addition to his widespread business interests, Venables also co-authored four novels with writer Gordon Williams and is credited as co-creator of the ITV detective series Hazell.

Having been a football pundit for BBC since the mid-80s, he left for ITV in 1994, following a legal dispute with the corporation over allegations made against him in a Panorama programme.

In 1990 Venables co-devised the board game, "Terry Venables invites you to be... The Manager". This is a football management game and is a cross between the 'Game of Life,' 'Risk' & 'Trivial Pursuit.'

In 2002 Venables recorded a single for the World Cup together with the band Rider. 'England Crazy' reached number 46 in the UK charts.

El Tel was a true renaissance man - and crooned his legendary version of "What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For" live on TV (right).

In May 2006, Venables guided the England Legends and Celebrities squad to victory in the charity 'Soccer Aid' programme.

In 1997 Venables became manager of Australia.
His side swept through the Oceanic World Cup qualifiers but were beaten in a play-off by Iran on away goals, a match often referred to as the most tragic moment in Australian soccer history. With the team having drawn 1-1 in Tehran, Australia lead the second leg 2-0 at half time, but the partisan crowd were left stunned when they conceded two late goals. Venables was later sacked.

Then followed brief but disastrous spells back at Crystal Palace & Portsmouth, both of whom were suffering financial difficulties at the time.
He joined Pompey first as a consultant, then as Chairman and left with Pompey bottom of Division One & on the brink of bankruptcy & Palace under acrimonious circumstances as they were about to go into administration.

Following a further brief spell in management at Middlesbrough, Venables decided his business interests & media work would not allow him the time to take up a permanent role on Teeside, & he continued to work as a pundit on ITV, seen particularly during the 2002 World Cup.

Just days before the end of the tournament Venables was linked with the vacant managerial position at Leeds & by July 2002 he was unveiled as their new manager.
Leeds’ disastrous financial predicament only began to truly surface two weeks into his tenure, as players such as Jonathan Woodgate & Robbie Keane were sold without Venables being informed, in an effort to pay off mounting debts.
With the team spiralling towards relegation, & the club into a financial crisis, amid later substantiated rumours of player sell-offs by the board, Venables was sacked in March 2003.

Venables again found himself back in the England set-up in 2006, as assistant to new manager Steve McClaren.
He was later sacked from this role in November 2007, along with McClaren after England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Football Championships.

To conclude this critique on the colourful life of 'El Tel,' here are some amusing quotes made by Terry Venables........that in hindsight he possibly wished he had never said!

"If you can't stand the heat in the dressing-room, get out of the kitchen."

"Apart from their goals, Norway haven't scored"

"The mere fact that he's injured stops him getting injured again, if you know what I mean"

"You either win or you lose. There's no in between."

"It may have been going wide, but nevertheless it was a great shot on target"

"They didn't change positions; they just moved the players around"

No comments: