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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 11:51 GMT
El Tel: villain to hero?
Terry Venables
Fans who wanted him out are now happy he's staying
Robbie Fowler and Jonathan Woodgate left Elland Road last week, and chairman Peter Ridsdale could yet follow them.

But manager Terry Venables seems to have the backing of the fans, just weeks after calls from the terraces for him to go.

So now he has decided to stay on, are fans right to think El Tel can steer the club through the current crisis?



At times of trouble, you need a man with presence.

Thankfully for the Elland Road faithful, they've got just that in Terry Venables - a man with supreme football knowledge, motivational skills and the complete trust of all those that have played under him.

Ask Alan Shearer, Tony Adams, Stuart Pearce and Paul Gascoigne what they think of Venables the coach.

Heaven forbid a cheeky chappy Londoner goes north to rescue a club that's all but doomed

Ask those wily old sages, Don Howe, Dave Sexton and George Graham who they rate as the top man.

It's easy to jump on the bandwagon of regional stereotypes. Heaven forbid, a cheeky chappy Londoner goes north to rescue a club that's all but doomed.

Oh, but he's done that before.

Ask Middlesbrough fans what he did for them. Would they have him back?

No false messiah

Granted, he has made mistakes - he probably wouldn't be your first choice as a business adviser.

And he is accused of having spin doctors galore. But even his biggest detractors know you can't forge a top-flight career on that alone.

There's no cash at Leeds but those with any idea about the game know he's the man to squeeze the last drop of talent from the players at his disposal.

Judge him as a coach. Forget the poison, the bile and taunts of false Messiah.

El Tel's the only hope Leeds have of salvation.




Terry Venables is the true victim of Leeds United's financial shambles - but he has milked the role like an old theatrical ham on amateur night.

Venables ran through his full range of emotions from fury to open bewilderment as the horrendous scale of the Elland Road transfer folly was laid bare by chairman Peter Ridsdale.

It is true to say he was placed in an almost impossible postion by the sale of Jonathan Woodgate to Newcastle without his say-so.

If he succeeds he can quit a hero. If he fails he can blame the board

But no-one is more well-versed in turning the situation to his own advantage than El Tel.

And he has not disappointed.

If he does stay until the end of the season, it will be the perfect platform for the old timer.

If he succeeds he can quit a hero. If he fails he can blame the board.

But how about this?

Venables shuts up, gets on with his job and actually provides some hard evidence that he is the master coach we are told he is by his brain-washing apologists.

Mediocre performance

And so far, even with a very talented squad, he has delivered a mediocre performance.

And as for those departures from Leeds, he is not as much of a victim as everyone might think.

Rio Ferdinand went for an astronomical fee, both Robbies (Keane and Fowler) left because Venables didn't pick them, and Bowyer was always on the way out through no fault of the club.

As for Olivier Dacourt, was it not Venables himself who picked virtually anybody else ahead of him and personally offered to drive him to the Italian club of his choice?

And when given the chance to buy he went, with tiresome predictability, for the perennial over-achiever Nick Barmby.

El Tel may be the heroic victim now - but he should be careful about over-playing his hand.

Leeds United in crisis

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