So Johnson has finally selected his squad. Regular readers will know my general thoughts on the quality, or lack thereof, in this dismal squad. It is laughably bad. The worst world cup squad in living memory. A squad devoid of a basic backbone, of speed, of flair, creativity and one creaking at the seams due to patently unready members. For all this, I blame Martin Johnson, who is now sinking into the mire of his own arrogance and incompetence.
Before I attract the ire of too many readers, I have no personal axe to grind with the man. What a wonderful player he was, but the qualities he brought as a player are simply not translating into the coaching world. Of course we know he was patently unqualified for the job and was ultimately selected by the media while the RFU itself was disintegrating.
Johnson's qualities as a player were a single-mindedness, refusal to compromise, a one track approach to the game.
It is precisely these same qualities that has lead him to get himself into the shithole he now finds himself. A refusal to compromise has lead him to sticking with the beyond useless Hape and Tindall. The same single mindedness means he picks liablities like Moody and Sheridan. And his one track approach to the game means no place for true high quality players like Simpson Daniel.
His strengths as a player are his weaknesses as a coach. It is as simple as that.
A fit and firing Youngs, Moody and Sheridan will of course get into the England first team. But they are not fit. As sure as night follows day, Moody will get injured in the first game and will be fit again if England make the semis. Sheridan, as I have oft stated, the most delicate man mountain in the world game will never, ever last a world cup, let alone a full game.
But Youngs' selection is even more disgraceful. The bloke has not played a minutes' rugby in months. He is recovering from shoulder surgery. His form dropped dramatically before he was operated on. And for this, he makes the England team? Johnson needs his head examined. It is a disgrace that Youngs has been selected for the RWC squad in his current state.
The squad is full of players picked on hope. MJ hopes Moody will be fit. He hopes Youngs will recover. He hopes that yob Tuilagi (it sticks in my throat to see him playing for England) will suddenly develop into a world class centre at the age of 20, one season in to his premiership career. He hopes, somehow that Hape/Tindall will be able to strong more than one pass together and Cueto may find his way to the line.
This reliance on hope shows Johnson has failed. He has failed to develop a squad worth the name. He has failed to pick the right players and failed to find a midfield capable of finding the tryline.
This litancy of failure is sadly symbolic of the decline of rugby lead by its spineless governing body. The sooner we have a clear out in the post world cup inevitable disaster, the better.
I am dreading the Ireland game.