Johnno Must Stay

I have no doubt in my mind that Martin Johnson should remain as England team manager.

Nobody will argue that the World Cup campaign didn't go as well as it could have done or was expected to do.

But Johnno should not harbour all the blame.

He has a tremendous amount of respect from the boys who play for him because he trusts them and doesn't want to treat them like children.

He let them go out for a drink once or twice. So what? A lot of the off-field stuff that got reported on was blown out of all proportion and I firmly believe that you cannot expect a group of 30 men to stay in their hotel rooms every day of their lives.

Look at how badly England's football team performed when they were told to do exactly that at the last World Cup.

Johnno's relationship with the players is second to none and he is a great leader of men as well.

Those players will feel that they have let him down a bit in terms of their performance.

The quarter-final defeat was poor but don’t think that is all Johnno's fault.

The French were a prime example of how much responsibility the players have on their shoulders.

Their squad fell out with Marc Lievremont mid-tournament but rallied themselves behind their captain and battled their way to the final. Basically, without their coach telling them anything.

There are other points to bare in mind too.

England won the Six Nations back in March and came within one win of a Grand Slam. People forget that.

Also, chopping and changing coaching staff with regularity does nobody any good. Look at New Zealand. They were under pressure to sack Graham Henry after the 2007 World Cup but they stuck with him and now, four years later, that faith has been repaid. He knows the players and the systems inside out and that continuity is good for any set-up.

England moving forward is about getting the balance right and if that means his coaching staff needs freshening up a bit, so be it.

But you need a constant and Johnno should represent that.

It’s time to stick with him and say: "Johnno, you have four years to get it right".

He should blood some young players like Owen Farrell and they will fit in well alongside guys like Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and Dylan Hartley who are no rookies any more and have some good experience of the big stage.


Read more opinion from Andy Goode on Living Rugby.

Andy Goode has played fly-half for England and now plays at Worcester Warriors.

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