Martin Smith: Could England’s football team follow the lead of other sports and use some Southern Hemisphere scowl?

Sumner Malik and Nick Matthew
Sumner Malik and Nick Matthew

Maybe it’s the hard, clipped accents and that Southern Hemisphere scowl. Maybe it’s organisation, motivation, a will to win and a way of communicating that will to win.

Whatever it is can we have some of it for our football team please?

Eddie Jones, Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt have all raised the game and the profile of their respective adopted rugby nations to the point where they are ready to take on the world and win.

The England, Wales and Ireland coaches can’t all be champions and heaven knows Kiwi Vern Cotter is having a hard time with Scotland. But northern hemisphere rugby is on the up, markedly so and mostly because of southern hemisphere coaches who appear have something working across the board.

Cricket coaches Micky Arthur with Pakistan, Stuart law in West Indies and of course England coach Trevor Bayliss are all southerners holding down northern jobs. Clearly their native countries have history and pedigree in cricket and rugby that they don’t have in football. But what are they doing down there to produce coaches in such demand the world over and why aren’t we doing it here?

Perhaps it’s fashion and the fad will pass - the type of fashion that gave England Sven-Göran Eriksson and the lamentable Fabio Capello. Perhap it’s that the England football manager needs to be a politician, social worker, psychologist and public relations person as much as he - or she - needs to be a coach.

A few years ago it was suggested Sir Clive Woodward might lead England’s football team after taking the rugger lads to the world title in 2003.

He dabbled at Southampton and though that went sour, they are now one of the best-organised clubs in the country, despite or because of Woodward’s temporary influence. There are no guarantees.

But other countries and other sports have broken the mould that history cast them, teams and nations have started afresh and conquered all.

The current blossoming of the England rugby side reminds us that everything is possible when the right people come together with the right attitudes and abilities. Are you watching, Martin Glenn?

n Sheffield’s world squash champion Nick Matthew gave £10,000 he won at Canary Wharf Classic to help 11-year-old squash fanatic Sumner Malik pay for treatment for an incurable brain tumour. Now there’s a champion worthy of the name. Good luck Sumner.