Byline: MICHAEL HART
Croatia 3 England 2
TODAY'S sacking of Steve McClaren should be merely the first stage in acomplete overhaul of the systems used by the Football Association to identifyand appoint England managers.
McClaren's failure demonstrates the need for radical thinking at Soho Square ifEngland are not to settle once more for the familiar cycle of mediocrity thathas typified the management reigns of most England coaches since Sir Alf Ramseywon the World Cup in 1966.
A hastily arranged meeting of the FA board at Soho Square this morningconfirmed the termination of McClaren's [pounds sterling]2.5million-a-year contract andacknowledged that a review of selection procedures would begin immediately.
The processes involved in appointing McClaren as successor to Sven-GoranEriksson 18 months ago sank to farcical depths at one stageand FA chief executive Brian Barwick accepted a large part of theresponsibility for the appointment.
"It will be done differently this time," he insisted today. "We have to learnlessons from the way we did it." But as is often the case with the FA, wordsare not always matched by deeds.
It is clear that for many of the movers and shakers in big-time football theoverall good of the game often comes second to vested interests.
It was remarkable for instance that the Premier League's Sir David Richards, onthe top table when the FA announced McClaren's departure to the world, shouldsuggest that their was no shortage of England players among the clubs.
There is clearly a lack of quality playersa handicap to both Eriksson and McClaren and a worsening situation.
There are people within the profesional game who recognise the urgency of theproblemthe FA's Sir Trevor Brooking for instancebut even they Macca and are not getting the support they need.
For the FA to succeed as English football's governing body there has to be asense of unity within the game and this is not the case at the moment.
Numerous reports, blueprints and strategic plans have touched on the problemsdeveloping in the game over the last two decades. Although the big clubs areenormously wealthy and the big players are millionaires, precious little of anysignificance has been done to improve the overall infrastructure of the widergame.
It will only get better if the will exists at the top level to accept change.
In March 2000 the FA published a "Three-year Strategic Plan" designed toachieve consistent long-term success on the field and "win the World Cup by2006". …