Martin Johnson Loses His Marbles

10 03 2010

The England team has been announced for Saturdays 6 Nations match against Scotland. With what is now disturbing regularity, Johnson has surprised most people by making 2 changes which, in our view, are verging on the ludicrous.

Firstly Lewis Moody has been replaced by Joe Worsley at 7, which quite frankly is a bizarre decision. We all know what Worsley offers, lots of tackling and hard work but also silly penalties and very little ball in hand. Moody, however, has been one of the few England players to have shone over the recent past and despite a quiet game against Ireland, it seems a strange decision. Worsley is a very fine defensive player and as such represents a negative pick.

Louis Deacon has come in for Simon Shaw forming what must be the most extraordinarily dull lock pairing we have ever seen. Both Deacon and Borthwick are players of much the same type, solid, dependable, slow and as far from the description ‘dynamic’ as it is possible to get. The only sliver of light showing here, comes in the form of Courtney Lawes, who has been moved up to the bench. Lawes shouldn’t hold his breath however as the last time he sat on the bench he wasn’t trusted with much actual game time.

Now and again in life you come across people who are contrary. We all know the sort, people who will disagree with even the most sensible argument simply for the sake of being different and are often stubborn and irritating individuals. It could be argued that Johnson could be one of these types given his selection policies. Every single critic, both English and not, including such coaching luminaries as Sir Ian McGeechan, have identified England’s failings and all broadly agree, although it must be said not everyone is on the same wavelength with regard to the cause of these issues. We won’t list them for the umpteenth time here, yet it appears the only man who doesn’t understand what is wrong, and therefore can hardly be expected to fix it, is Johnson himself. By ridding England of Moody, ignoring Foden and bringing in Louis Deacon to partner Borthwick (a case in point himself) he is reinforcing all that has been wrong up until this point and quite frankly, we don’t understand it.

The one change we, and many better informed commentators, feel should have been made has been ignored. Despite being clearly the only England back to have injected any pace and intent into the attacking game against Ireland, Foden has been ignored once again. In some ways we appreciate Johnson’s loyalty to Armitage, yet he has been such a stuttering presence it seems an opportunity missed to not give Foden his first start.

A second option which we feel would increase England’s potency, is by throwing Ben Youngs, Leicester’s flying scrum half, into the mix. Despite many media experts giving Danny Care qualified praise for his performances in this years competition, we at the Compulsive Hooker believe him to be a flawed player and actually the cause of some of England’s problems.He is quick and has the ability to break upfield, but his decision making is frequently poor and his passing slow due to the extra steps he takes each time he passes. Giving Youngs his head would have been a bold and brave move by Johnson, although it is hardly surprising he stopped short and only included the young 9 on the bench.

So there you have it. In our eyes, incontrovertible proof that Johnson is not the man for the  England job. We have said it before and we’ll say it again no doubt, but living legend and world cup winner though he is, coach, selector, manager, whatever you want to call him – he is not.


It is getting to the point where we at the Compulsive Hooker, are considering not watching the game on Saturday. Up until now we would never have even contemplated such a boycott, yet the levels of frustration incurred by watching the drivel dished out by this current England side are so high that we would probably be better off focusing on the hockey for example. At least they can play.

Through chatting to many people over the past few weeks, we know that we are far from alone in this. We are from a situation where Twickenham will have spare tickets for a game, but England need to be careful. The fantastic work in promoting and widening the profile of this brilliant game done by England in the late 90’s and early 2000’s is being undone. At this rate, no 12 year old child is going to dream of being the next Steve Borthwick or Delon Armitage.

It is of course very easy for us to comment on England from the safety of our couches and not being responsible in any way. Yet something MUST be done and it must be done soon.


Oh and a prediction for the match itself….. England to snatch a low scoring and pretty dire affair. 15-9 perhaps? It would not come as a surprise to us though if that scoreline is reversed. So far on this website we have been wrong probably 60% of the time. We would dearly love to be forced to write a piece on how amazingly short sighted we have been so far and of course if they can play like that, Johnson is clearly the man for the job… Somehow we doubt we’ll need to though!




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