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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 12:52 GMT
Venables back at the Palace once again
Terry Venables shows the strain during his second spell at Crystal Palace
Venables under pressure during his second spell at Palace

They do say you should never go back.

But, on Sunday, Terry Venables finds himself returning once again to Crystal Palace, the place where he enjoyed his best - and worst - days in football management.

Venables' Leeds side face Palace for a place in the last eight of the FA Cup, aware that this competition is their only remaining chance of salvaging something from the wreckage of a dismal season.

Tel at Palace, pt one
Time: 16 June 1976 to 1 October 1980
Games: 189
Won: 69
Lost: 52
Drawn: 68
Venables can expect a very mixed reception.

While his first spell in charge at Selhurst Park saw him lauded as the best young manager in the game, his second was marked by problems on the pitch and financial meltdown off it.

Venables initially took over as Palace manager in June 1976, having been coach under Malcolm Allison for two years.

It was his first job in football management. Allison had signed him as a player in 1973, and then instilled in his young protégée the virtues of possession football.

Despite a strictly limited budget, Venables gradually assembled a team of youngsters capable of playing to those ideals.

Terry Venables in 1980
Venables watches on during his first spell at Palace
He won promotion to Division Two in 1977 and then, two years later, to the top flight with a team famously dubbed, "The team of the '80s".

With the oldest man in the squad 26-year-old Jim Cannon, Venables had at his disposal some of the brightest young talents in the game.

Sadly, it proved to be a false dawn. With the exception of Kenny Sansom - sold to Arsenal in exchange for Clive Allen - his players failed to fulfil their potential.

Vince Hilaire, Jerry Murphy, Dave Swindlehurst and Peter Nicholas all enjoyed some success once Venables had been tempted across London to QPR in October 1980, but things were never quite as good ever again.

Tel at Palace, pt two
Time: 4 June 1998 to 15 January 1999
Games: 31
Won: 15
Lost: 15
Drawn: 7
Then, almost 18 years later, and after a journey that took him to the Nou Camp, White Hart Lane, Wembley, Fratton Park and Australia, the prodigal son returned.

It seemed such a good idea.

Palace were in upheaval, relegated from the Premiership and a laughing-stock after a managerial merry-go-round that included 15 days in charge from Ron Noades, a month and a half from Attillio Lombardo and unsuccessful second spells from Steve Coppell and Dave Bassett.

This time around, there was no magic, no turnaround in fortunes and certainly no promotions to celebrate.

Terry Venables looks strained
Leeds' uncertain form and future have left Venables uneasy
Palace's new chairman Mark Goldberg had over-burdened himself in buying the club. Venables, reputedly on a huge salary, could do nothing to stem the decline on the pitch.

He parted company with the club after just seven months in charge, his reputation as a manager dented and his image with the fans battered.

Neither Palace or Venables have enjoyed the best of times since that sorry divorce.

The London club have been through six more managers without regaining their Premiership place, while Venables is still deep in the mire at Elland Road.

The former Palace favourite has not won a trophy in England since 1991.

A Cup win on Sunday - particularly over his old club - would help him feel a good deal better about that unhappy statistic.


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