Stuart Barnes penned a very strong column in The Sunday Times which started with the defining line: “England are in need of immediate action”.
“In 2016 Jones had a team who relished a fresh managerial tone. The bulk of them had been part of the 2015 World Cup failure. Many of them were revived under the Australian’s tough love. We thought that Eddie was in a state of transition as he expressed the ultimate aim of success in Japan, over and over. The RFU signed him to win the World Cup. It was his mantra. But the more England kept winning, the less Jones appeared interested in anything but the next game,” Barnes wrote.
“England are not so much zooming in on the World Cup as limping painfully towards ignominy … time for action.”
He noted Jones had felt England could beat South Africa 3-0 on the back of a fifth-place finish in the Six Nations but the team had gone from bad to worse.
Jones constantly insists he has the players good enough for the World Cup but Barnes argued that the results showed “the link between players and management has broken – or is very close to breaking”.
Jones had initially been “immensely popular with the players”, a hard task-master yet amusing, intelligent, good company.
Barnes reminded readers that similar sentiments had been expressed by players about the previous coach Stuart Lancaster “until the World Cup fell apart for them”. He suspected something similar now in the mix between players and management.
“These are programmed players wandering the beach with their iPads loaded with reviews, analysis, assessments. Defunct robots. Information is not going in. The intelligence has never appeared more artificial. But where does all this leave the inquiry?” asked Barnes in his Sunday Times column.
“It seems that the lads are now overloaded. That could explain why Jones does well for short, intense bursts. If he finds 15 new players, maybe the trick will work again. But Jones’s selections suggest that England don’t have those players.
“If these are the elite, it appears that a new voice is needed. Just as Jones offered one to England post-Lancaster. The biggest risk is to take no risk. Could England possibly be any worse than the second half on Saturday?”