The Jonny Debate

21 02 2010

Flood Dangers Retreat for Wilkinson

With further column inches by the dozen being given over to the ‘Jonny debate’ over the past week since England’s poor showing against Italy, Toby Flood was deemed to have been given an opportunity to play himself into the team by playing well for Leicester yesterday. Solid and dependable, he showed once more that he provides nothing to England that Jonny doesn’t. He kicked his goals, was reas0nable out hand (although a few kicks went astray) but did nothing particularly exciting in open play.

The whole debate surrounding the fly half position is a bit of a non argument in our minds. Let us look at the options starting with Jonny:

Jonny Wilkinson
Incumbent and a legend. He would be the first to admit he has hardly played as well as he would have liked but still provides a (usually) reliable boot, the best defence of any 10 in the world,  and showed signs in the Italy game of greater positivity in attack. He has always played better with a good 12 outside him and with Flutey now fit and looking like he could be the man, Johnson may and probably should let them play a few games together before making a further call.

Toby Flood
Toby Flood is a man who appears to incite irrational dislike. Several of our friends and acquaintances admit to this strange phenomenon which is rendered extraordinary by the fact that Flood rarely does anything to make you despair or excited. Flood kicks most of his goals, is reasonable in defence and unexciting in attack. For Flood to be deemed England’s potential saviour and possibly the man to replace Wilkinson seems short sighted and frankly quite stupid. There is not one facet of his game that he does better than Jonny in our opinion and if Jonny is to be demoted – surely hisreplacement has to be a better player in come capacity?!

Andy Goode
On the subject of irrational dislikes, we at the Compulsive Hooker need to own up to one now. Whilst thinking rationally we are sure he is an eminently decent individual and exactly the sort of chap one would like to go for a pint with, but we have never ever been able to even slightly warm to Andy Goode. We would like to think that this is due to his extraordinarily limited skills as a fly half, his entire repertoire seemingly limited to the grubber and chip kicks, but it could equally be his hair. Shave it off for god’s sake – go bald gracefully! Seriously though, Johnson, through out his tenure, has shown a disturbing predilection for Goode’s limited armoury although we feel this is more to do with Johnson’s need to know what everyone on the field is likely to do at any given moment. Unfortunately this predictability is exactly the opposite of what is needed when playing at 10.

Shane Geraghty
Whilst recently having been dropped from the squad altogether, Shane Geraghty in our eyes represents the best option should Johnson decide to demote Jonny. Elusive, unpredictable and the possessor of a fine running game, he in many ways offers more than Jonny. Unfortunately, he is still likely to make a wrong decision and put his team on the back foot as he is to set them going forward. Ever since his effervescent debut against France 2 years ago, we have been fans of his but believe that his time has not yet come (at 10 anyway). Should Johnson make the decision to take England in a fundamental change of direction then his selection is potentially justified.

Danny Cipriani
The maverick on the list, Cipriani has of course removed himself from selection until probably after the 2011 world cup. Perhaps the most talented of the bunch, but like Geraghty prone to strange decisions on occasions, his move down under will in all likelihood benefit England in the long run. For those who remember his brilliant performance against Ireland 2 years ago, when he ran the game with a rare authority, it is clear he will be back.

In Conclusion
Essentially the question boils down to this: In a world cup knock out stage game, with 5 minutes to go and the game in the balance, who would you rather have at the helm? Jonny’s big match ability and calmness under pressure wins the argument every single time for us and with this in mind he should be given the opportunity to form a working relationship with Flutey at 12.

The debate as the whole seemed entirely contrived from the off to us and simply a method of filling the sports section of the papers. It was Flood after all who was released back to Leicester and Jonny who was wrapped in cotton wool – if Flood was being lined up to play as a key match winner against the Irish on Saturday, surely the players released would have been swapped around?




One response

27 02 2010

Absolutely agree with your comments, Bradders. I think the recent wave of negative press towards Jonny is fickle and disproportionate; he is still undoubtedly our best option. I would like us to work towards a settled 15 in the run up to the World cup and think a developed understanding between Jonny and Flutey will be central to success.
I, also really don’t like Flood and would more subscribe your comments about Geraghty and Cipriani’s poor decision making to him.
Have always found him exasperating.

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