THE REVOLVING door at the Football Association took another metaphorical spin yesterday with Steve McClaren announcing he was resigning his position as an England coach. Sven Goran Eriksson said he intended to stay on in his own job as manager, despite the resignation on Wednesday evening of Adam Crozier, the FA chief executive who appointed him. But there was little other reason for optimism at the headquarters of the FA in Soho Square.
Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, even floated the notion that disciplinary measures should come within the jurisdiction of the Premier League as opposed to the game's national governing body. Richard Caborn, the sports minister, described Crozier's departure as "very unfortunate" and sought to sooth the nerves of investors in the pounds 757m Wembley project, which Crozier effectively picked up off the ground. It remained unclear who will replace Crozier, or when, or what neutering will be performed on the powers of whoever fills the post.
McClaren said he had agonised over his decision to step down but that his job at Middlesbrough needs his undivided attention from now on. "After the World Cup I agonised for many weeks," he said. "I let my heart rule and felt that, yes, I could carry on and give both jobs the kind of commitment that is required. But I soon found that that wasn't to be and it would be inappropriate for me to carry on.
"I feel the time is right because it gives them time [before England's next competitive fixture, the Euro 2004 qualifier in Liechtenstein in March] to find somebody else. I've always said that I would review the situation after every game. It was never intended to be long-term, it's just sort of dragged on. I felt last year with the World Cup, it would be inappropriate to leave then. [But] my main priority is Middlesbrough. This is where I earn my living, this is where I want to do well and the timing seems right."
McClaren insisted his decision had nothing to do with Crozier's departure or any difference of opinion with Eriksson. "Sven was disappointed, but he understood and he respected that. He's been a club manager, he's been an international manager, he knows the pressures are immense on both, so he understood, and likewise Adam. …