Danny Rogers: FA's comms team now requires bravery

For you, Football Association, the World Cup is over. So how did English football's governing body perform from a comms perspective?

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

In sport, it's always difficult to extricate performance off the field from that on it. If England had won the World Cup, no one would have criticised the FA's comms skills. Plunging out at the first knock-out stage is a different matter, with the inevitable soul-searching already in full swing.

From before the tournament, expectations were managed better than in previous World Cups, with Fabio Capello and the players avoiding claims they would 'win it this time.'

There was also more discipline around access to the England camp, although, at times, this may have gone too far, with Capello's early rant at photographers and restricted access to questions from international media.

The first crunch point came after England's woeful match against Algeria, after which tensions emerged within the camp. It was a little bizarre that former captain John Terry virtually criticised the manager and tactics in a press conference, but this was quickly smoothed over by the FA, which also put up Frank Lampard to re-assert unity. Whether or not you agree with these tactics, the on-pitch outcome was a much better performance against Slovenia.

Team 'ambassador' David Beckham generally did a great comms job, showing an experienced and dignified face to a team well-beaten by Germany. The fans behaved themselves and even senior football journalists had praise for FA comms director Adrian Bevington and his team. So, let's be honest, it could have been worse for English football's medium-term reputation, particularly when you compare it with that of French football at present.

The FA's decision to delay a judgement over the coach's future, taking the heat out of the debate, also looks wise.

However, there are worrying long-term issues for the FA. The decision to extend Capello's contract prior to the tournament was ridiculous. It is strategic decisions like these that forge the FA's reputation. Now surely is the time to stand up to the Premier League and demand more time and respect for international football.

The FA's senior executives also need to take brave decisions over the number of English coaches and the level of technical development at grassroots level. It is up to them to ensure some good comes out of a dire display in the competition itself.

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