FA should lead from the front - Richards

November 23, 2007

Premier League chairman Sir David Richards has called for 'real leadership' as the hunt for Steve McClaren's successor begins.

Not only have most England fans lost patience with the now-sacked coach and his highly-paid but under-performing players, they are also dubious about the ability of the Football Association to appoint a suitable replacement.

Of the 12-man committee that dumped McClaren by a unanimous vote yesterday morning, only Football League chairman Brian Mawhinney and Manchester United chief executive David Gill were not part of the board who approved McClaren's appointment.

The fear among fans now is that while they want Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger, they will end up with a sub-standard and uninspiring coach incapable of lifting the England team out of its present torpor.

As one of McClaren's staunchest allies, Richards has been forced to hold his hands up and admit his own mistakes in the recruitment of the man who replaced Sven-Goran Eriksson.

But now, after handing over much of the responsbility for finding a new coach to Barwick, Richards believes it is time the major powerbrokers within the FA proved they are capable of effective governance.

'We need to demonstrate real leadership,' he said.

'From the top, we have to stick our heads over the parapet and say `We got that wrong'.

'We are admitting we got it wrong and we have to accept the responsibility for it going wrong.'

Although Richards should be condemned for totally dismissing the argument that the Premier League - with its vast numbers of foreign players - cannot be held responsible for the shambolic state of the England team, his talks with FA chief executive Brian Barwick over a solution to the continuing stagnation of young English talent must find a fruitful reward if the present crisis is not to get even worse.

And, on the basis two of the leading English candidates to replace McClaren in the bookmakers' lists are Alan Shearer, who has no managerial experience at all, and under-21 boss Stuart Pearce, who was sacked by Manchester City last summer after a woeful 12 months, it is not just the playing side that needs to be looked at.

'You talk about the number of foreign players but the number of foreign coaches is significant as well,' said Barwick.

'Are we giving our English managers the right opportunities?

'At some stage we have to start looking forward to the 2010 World Cup.

'We have got to look at how we get our current youngsters into the system and then get managers to be brave enough to play them.'