On This Day – 9th March

A crowd of 71,970 clicked through the turnstiles at Wembley on this day in 1994 to watch Terry Venables’ first game in charge of England. The match was a friendly against reigning European champions Denmark.

A wave of optimism swept across the nation after the announcement that the former Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur manager would be the man who would replace Graham Taylor. England had failed to qualify for the World Cup under Taylor and the fans had to put up with some poor performances during his three years in charge. A new man like Venables gave the public good reason to be excited about watching their national team again.

The match itself was rather a turgid affair, with David Platt scoring the only goal of the game on 17 minutes. Venables handed debuts to Graeme Le Saux, Matt Le Tissier and his former Tottenham winger Darren Anderton.

In selecting Le Tissier, Venables had done what many fans had wanted to see for some time. The Southampton man often showed skill, style and finesse during his time playing for The Saints, but now it was his time to prove his worth in an England shirt.
Le Tissier came on midway through the second half, replacing another playmaker Paul Gascoigne. With only a quarter of the match to prove himself, he knew that he would have to show his talents off another time.

Denmark had surprised many by winning the 1992 European Championships just two years earlier. Just like England, they had failed to qualify for the World Cup finals that were due to be held in the States three months later. They had Manchester United’s Peter Schmeichel and Arsenal’s John Jensen as well as both Laudrup brothers in their ranks, but did not pose much of a threat to Venables’ men.

Terry Venables remained as England manager until July 1996, when his contract was terminated. He was replaced by Glenn Hoddle.

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