Johnson admits to shortcomings
April 4, 2010
The RFU insists Johnson will lead England through to Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson insists he would walk away from his post if he felt he was not up to the task.
His side have won just three out of eight matches this season, although there were signs of improvement in their last Six Nations clash against Grand Slam champions France. Johnson has a poor record of just eight wins in his first 19 Tests in charge and, while he is confident he will continue to improve as a manager, the 40-year-old admits he has often questioned whether he is up to the job.
"Look, my record's clearly not good enough and England should be more successful than that," Johnson told the Mail on Sunday. "International sport is brutal. If players don't play well they get dropped. If coaches or managers are perceived to be not doing a good job then someone else will come in and do it.
"Am I lucky to be still in the job? It's difficult to answer that. I report to Rob Andrew and he understands where the team were in terms of the lack of a core, or of leadership, and where it is now. He understands that injuries forced us to make 11 changes for the autumn internationals last year. And he knows the squad and leadership development that has been made.
"Of course, I wanted our progress to be quicker than it has been and we're all extremely frustrated by it. If I felt it would be the best thing for England then I'd walk, for sure. If it's the right call to make a change, whether it be a coach or the manager, then I'd make it."
Reflecting on his tenure so far, the Rugby World Cup winner added, "I was inexperienced and it's been a steep learning curve. I'm a much better manager now than I was 18 months ago. I look back and realise there were a number of things I could have handled better and, yes, I ask myself if I'm good enough to manage England. It's fair to say there have been some very black days and more than a few moments when I've doubted the wisdom of taking on this job."
Johnson also believes it would be too "simplistic" to bring Sir Clive Woodward back into the England set-up. RFU's director of elite rugby Rob Andrew continues to come under fire with his critics calling for Woodward - currently the British Olympic Association director of elite performance - to be brought in to replace him. However, Johnson, who captained Woodward's men to World Cup glory seven years ago, believes that would not solve England's problems.
"There's always speculation when results don't come, and that's why there's talk now of Clive taking over Rob's job," he said. "Clive's got an important job to do at the BOA. He was heavily criticised after the Lions were heavily beaten on the 2005 tour to New Zealand. No-one was calling for him to come back to England then.
"Is it too simplistic to bring Clive Woodward back and think everything will be OK? Yes, of course it is. What will improve the team is continuity and trust in the players and management."
England Coaches - How they compare: (Source: Mail on Sunday)
* Figure does not include the 2008 tour of New Zealand when Johnson had been appointed but did not travel