Time to go, Johnno
Manager should pay the price for woeful World Cup, says Barnes

Stuart Barnes believes the World Cup exit should spell the end of Martin Johnson's reign.

England crashed out at the quarter-final hurdle with a 19-12 defeat to France in Auckland on Saturday morning.

Johnson's current contract is up for renewal in December and after three years at the helm, Barnes urged the Rugby Football Association not to offer him a new one.

The Sky Sports pundit labelled the current side as the "worst" England team he's seen at a World Cup for 24 years and says they have "gone nowhere" under their former skipper - who should never have been appointed in the first place.

"Right-thinking people were stunned when Martin Johnson was given a contract," he told Sky Sports News HD.

"It was a populist decision - Martin Johnson had never coached or managed any team. It's not a criticism of Johnson but no other country in the world would do this. It was a crazy ideal."

Barnes believes that inexperience proved costly as Johnson failed to build a settled side for the trip to New Zealand.

He contrasted that with the decisions made by Wales coach Warren Gatland, whose side are looking forward to the quarter-finals following an impressive win over Ireland. Gatland, he said, had a long-term vision, whereas England seemed to pick sides to win individual matches.

But Barnes also believes Johnson's players and backroom staff in particular should also shoulder the blame, the latter for failing to point out their boss's selection errors.

"People like Toby Flood, who came in to play alongside (Jonny) Wilkinson, have had ample time to sort out this midfield difficulty," he said.

"We've talked about it in the media for a year and suddenly it's Flood and Wilkinson against France in the biggest game of Johnson's tenure. That's not a gamble, it's just recklessness and naivety.

"He has been let down by his players and I fully agree with his attitude towards the players' behaviour: you're adults, do as you will. Some of them clearly haven't behaved in keeping with a team that is serious about winning the World Cup.

"Has he been let down by his coaches as well? I think he has, but only in the way he needed strong personalities to say to him 'Martin, you're not experienced, you're not getting this right'.

"They agreed too much. Honestly, it was like a cabinet agreeing with the PM non-stop and it takes you back to Margaret Thatcher's days - and that ended in disaster, too."

Johnson himself pointed to the spirited second-half fightback against France when tries from Ben Foden and Mark Cueto reduced a 16-0 half-time deficit and at least offered a glimmer of hope.

But Barnes believes it was way too little, way too late and instead castigated England and their coach for a slow start and precisely the wrong tactics against a side that was said to be in disarray following last weekend's loss to Tonga.

"The first 40 minutes was one of the most naive quarter-final performances I can remember in a World Cup," he said.


Edited by Frog_Eyes (8th Oct 2011 8:04pm)