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Terry Venables

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Fan Letters: “Farewell to Terry Venables — a great football man”

A tribute to the former England head coach and thoughts on Sunderland’s defensive options are in the RR mailbox today. Got something to say? Email us: RokerReport@yahoo.co.uk

Photo by David Cannon/Allsport UK/Getty Images


Dear Roker Report,

The passing of Terry Venables is another sad loss for football.

He played in the young Chelsea team that denied us promotion in 1962. They beat us in our last home game then won their game in hand, and that was my first disappointment as a Sunderland fan.

However my abiding memory of Terry was outside Wembley after the 1992 FA Cup final.

While many football ‘greats’ pushed through the group of fans, Terry made time and didn’t move on until everyone had a chance to chat with him.

Top man, El Tel.

Jim Wales

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Jim. Thanks for getting in touch and for sharing your memories of the great man.

My own abiding memory of ‘El Tel’ was the 1996 European Championships, during which he guided England to a semi-final berth amid a frenzy of pride and fervent backing. In all my years of following England, that was the closest we’d ever come to international success until the 2018 World Cup.

The Lightning Seeds provided the soundtrack to that summer, Paul Gascoigne’s volley against Scotland was an unforgettable moment, and Venables ensured that England were fearless and willing to express themselves without worrying about coming unstuck.

As the tributes from many of his former players prove, he was a superb coach and as you say, his loss is a sad day for football.

Soccer - Euro 96 - Semi Final - England v Germany Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

It really is time for Tony Mowbray to consider changes in defensive positions, particularly with regard to Luke O’Nien, who in my opinion is not a central defender.

He hasn’t got the physical presence for such a crucial position and whilst he’s wholehearted, he’s also the source of fairly frequent errors and misjudgements.

His range of passing is good and he would serve the team more effectively as a defensive midfielder, breaking up attacks and organising the base of midfield, not too dissimilar to a sweeper’s duties.

This would allow Jenson Seelt, Nectar Triantis or Aji Alese to be given a chance, each of whom have the physical attributes for such an important position, and it would also help us when it comes to set pieces.

I’m also rather concerned with the use of substitutes, who seem to be used in batches with seemingly no plan to alter the structure of the game. In fact, it often appears as though an element of guesswork is involved.

I’ve got no problem with the creativity and style of play we adopt, but the defence must become more watertight if we’re to progress.

Arthur Gray

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Arthur. Thanks for your letter.

Although the debate about Luke O’Nien’s ability as a defender won’t go away any time soon, he’s generally been solid and reliable for the majority of the season and his range of passing is clearly something that Tony Mowbray values highly.

That said, for Wednesday’s game against Huddersfield, I’d quite like to see Mowbray pair Dan Ballard up with Jenson Seelt.

This feels like an excellent opportunity to see how well they work together and it’ll give Seelt another chance to potentially get ninety crucial minutes under his belt.

It’s clear that O’Nien and Ballard are currently Mowbray’s first choice, and that’s fine, but I see no harm in rotating and giving others a chance, especially with some tough games to come and certain players still short of minutes.

Plymouth Argyle v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

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