Sri Lanka in England, 2013-14 May 16, 2014

Cook can draw 'line in the sand' - Bell

  shares 20

Ian Bell believes Alastair Cook will continue to show a tougher side to his captaincy as he learns from the experiences of the winter. While much around Cook has changed, including the head coach, he has kept his position in the one-day and Test sides but has spoken about having to forge a team in his own style.

Cook has previously admitted he began to doubt himself during the one-day series in Australia - he floated the suggestion of giving up the captaincy before back-tracking, blaming emotion, but has since said, in an interview with the Times that they were serious thoughts - but a combination of support from team-mates and a break from the international scene while T20 dominated has allowed him a fresh outlook.

Despite the victory in India in late 2012, in his first series as captain, and last year's Ashes victory on home soil, Bell conceded that the team had, perhaps, been in the shadow of what Andrew Strauss had forged and that the dramatic reversals of the last six months having forced the players to move on.

Early signs of Cook ploughing his own furrow have come with the axing of Graham Gooch, his longer-term mentor, as the official Test batting coach (although he will remain involved with a number of batsmen, including Bell) and after avoiding a slip-up in Scotland the one-day series against Sri Lanka, which starts next Thursday, will mark a return to spotlight.

"I think he will have learnt a lot from Australia. That could be a great thing for him," Bell said. "At the time you think it's the worst thing ever but hopefully he'll have learnt about himself but also the direction he wants the team to go in.

"There's no doubt the team at that point probably still felt a bit like Straussy's side, I think now this is a real line in the sand that he can say 'this is my team'. A lot of the time as a player you learn a lot more from your mistakes in a bad series than you do in a good series. This could be the start of him becoming a great captain for England.

"I'm sure over time he will be harder on the players. He's made some big decisions and that's a good sign. It's what people have been asking him to do. I'm sure we'll see more of that. He knows the way we want to be playing our cricket and we didn't see that in Australia and maybe that has given him the chance to see which way he wants to take the team."

Bell will have a vital role to play for Cook in both formats that they share the same side: in Test cricket, where he sits on 98 caps, he is now one of the senior batsmen, in the absence of Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, while in one-day cricket the pair have forged a successful opening partnership.

After the one-off T20, in which Bell hopes to make a return to the format, the attention will shift to the 50-over game for a couple of weeks with less than a year to go until the World Cup. The recall of Michael Carberry has opened the possibility of a reshuffle at the top of the order, but Bell feels he has finally reached his potential in the last two years of opening.

"I've averaged over 40, probably the best I've played ODI cricket," he said. "Before I was very inconsistent, not only in my runs but where I was batting in the order. Me and Cooky seem a good partnership; without Trotty at No. 3 there may be some jiggling there I don't know, and no Kev as well. I learnt a lot from our last one-day series in Australia and hopefully I will be that guy opening the batting, or in the top three, that can get us off to good starts."

There continues to be much debate about the make-up of England's top order, the pace they play at and the reluctance to introduce a more attacking player - such as Alex Hales - but remains adamant that the incumbents can provide the style of batting needed in Australia.

"I think we have to have two gameplans. In English conditions it will do a bit so we have to get the platform right, but that doesn't mean blocking it or leaving the ball. The same in Australia, it doesn't mean we have to slog. It means playing proper cricket shots with intent, scoring off lots of balls.

"It doesn't have to be like Chris Gayle, going 100 yards each time, but we can find out way. For us it's about a platform because we know our middle and lower order is powerful and can hurt any team in the world."

Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, is the title sponsor of Test match cricket in England. Visit investec.co.uk/cricket or follow us @InvestecCricket

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | May 17, 2014, 3:31 GMT

    Cook's situation highlights what is becoming a problem for England. Players are being brought into the side at young ages, before they have much or any experience of captaincy, and once they are in have little or no chance of gaining experience as the international schedule is too demanding to allow them to play much other cricket, let alone captain a FC side. Once they get to the position of being in line for an England captaincy, they have to start by learning how to captain- and believe me, it's different for everyone, you can't just copy someone else's style.

    It's notable that the last two successful England captains, Strauss and Vaughan, both had experience as captains before taking the England job.

    England have to hope Cook will be a fast learner, because in Australia he frequently looked out of his depth and allowed the game to drift rather than taking charge. If he isn't going to make a good captain, then England must make a change. Bell himself wouldn't be a bad choice.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | May 18, 2014, 14:00 GMT

    Wise words there from Bell; it's a relief to see England are starting to realise that different game plans/tactics are needed in different countries / on different pitches / against different opposition. The steady, grafting approach (dubbed attritional cricket by detractors) is needed here in UK where the ball moves a lot through the air and off the pitches; but in the drier, bouncier places like Australia and South Africa, there's no doubt that Australia have shown us that aggressive/attacking play works.

    Cook is a good batsman and a nice guy. Some decent runs off his bat will restore form/confidence not only for himself, but the whole team. It's high time Cook et al. threw away the 'Strauss textbook on Captaincy' and create their own. I also feel Cook needs to communicate/support his players more in the field. In many games, he has cut a forlorn figure standing with his arms crossed in the slips or wherever; I just think he needs to lose that petulance and enjoy games again.

  • POSTED BY serious-am-i on | May 18, 2014, 10:57 GMT

    if Cook becomes a good captain, I pity on the game's future, as that would mean all the opposing captains have become miserable. A good batsman need not be a good captain, Cook falls in the same category. Honestly speaking.. I'm unable to select anyone as captain in the current English side. Bopara seems to have a good head but he himself isn't consistent in the ODI's, so let's not even talk about his prospects of a test career.

  • POSTED BY andrew-schulz on | May 18, 2014, 7:17 GMT

    Landl47 England don't do whitewashes on Australia. Not since 1886 in a 3-match series. Certainly not now. Australia could lose 6 quicks and still have no one in their side as bad as Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett, or Stephen Finn. Heck, Australia's tenth best quick is probably better than Bresnan. Over the next five years you will find that it is all about depth, my friend. Very lucky to get as close as you did last summer.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | May 18, 2014, 6:34 GMT

    I didn't think Bell was interested in the captaincy. Didn't I read that somewhere only a little while ago? .. If Bell doesn't want to be a captain I can't see the point in forcing him. Declining on the grounds that you have absolutely no desire is a more honourable way to go then take it on because everyone expects then fail monumentally and set your team back another few years.

    @ land47: Good to hear about your left arm slowie. Every team needs a spinner. .. did you know we've got 3 young leggies rolling their arms over at the moment. Murhead, Zampa and the other bloke whose name escapes me. All in the early 20's and looking very promising across a range of formats. .. Exciting years ahead I'd say.

  • POSTED BY Rufus_Fuddleduck on | May 18, 2014, 3:58 GMT

    So true deedeeess .... Cook thinks of himself as a lawyer, entitled to "practice" all his life and one of these days his skills will develop. Bell will retire as the most promising talent to have come out of England after maybe Derek Randall ... all others in the interim either didn't have it or did something with it!! Stepping back from the Ashes, after all these months, nothing seems to have come of it except a rather un-gentle dismantling of the old guard. Of course two home series can perk up any team but then Downton and Cook are looking at building a base for a decade .... and there's precious little in word or action. Granted not everyone can be intelligent but then something somewhere has to penetrate dumb skulls like mine. When o when is the rebuilding coming forth?

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | May 18, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    @FFLNAH: I want to see a competitive contest next year, too, so dare I say it, I hope Johnson and Harris can stay fit for Australia. If those two are out, you might be looking at a reverse whitewash.

    I'm not sure whether he'll be ready during Cook's captaincy, but Middlesex has a young left-arm spinner called Ravi Patel who looks the best prospect I've seen for 6 years (since Swann debuted). He has a quick arm like almost all good spinners (Warne, Ajmal, Murali and Swann himself, to name a few) so he is difficult to pick. His control is good and he already has good variations. He's only 22 and has played a handful of FC games, so it's way too early to start boosting him as an England player, but unlike so many of the county spinners he really does look like a top prospect. Watch out for him over the next few years.

  • POSTED BY on | May 17, 2014, 21:27 GMT

    Strikingly selfless remarks from one who, to my mind, should already have been named England captain over Cook, and whom I'd like to see in that role for the next couple of years.

  • POSTED BY deedeeess on | May 17, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    Cook has played over a hundred test matches and been the English test captain for almost two years now. Perhaps instead of wondering about whether Cook will be become a great captain, Bell should be more worried about whether he will ever become an adequate one. If it were Graeme Smith in his early 20s, I would understand all the allowances being made, but Cook has no such excuse. The real concern is that his failings as a captain were apparent last summer in the home Ashes series, but he, and England were lucky enough for them to be papered over. He was cruelly exposed over the winter and it was not so much that his plans failed; rather that he had none.

  • POSTED BY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on | May 17, 2014, 13:05 GMT

    Interesting times, certainly, regarding Cook's captaincy as other posters have pointed out.

    Will it flower in a, perhaps, less claustrophobic atmosphere or will it be a case of Bambi in the headlights at the first real sign of difficulty? If it's the latter Downton, Cook and others have nailed, glued and riveted their colours to the mast over this and expect more carnage.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | May 17, 2014, 3:31 GMT

    Cook's situation highlights what is becoming a problem for England. Players are being brought into the side at young ages, before they have much or any experience of captaincy, and once they are in have little or no chance of gaining experience as the international schedule is too demanding to allow them to play much other cricket, let alone captain a FC side. Once they get to the position of being in line for an England captaincy, they have to start by learning how to captain- and believe me, it's different for everyone, you can't just copy someone else's style.

    It's notable that the last two successful England captains, Strauss and Vaughan, both had experience as captains before taking the England job.

    England have to hope Cook will be a fast learner, because in Australia he frequently looked out of his depth and allowed the game to drift rather than taking charge. If he isn't going to make a good captain, then England must make a change. Bell himself wouldn't be a bad choice.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | May 18, 2014, 14:00 GMT

    Wise words there from Bell; it's a relief to see England are starting to realise that different game plans/tactics are needed in different countries / on different pitches / against different opposition. The steady, grafting approach (dubbed attritional cricket by detractors) is needed here in UK where the ball moves a lot through the air and off the pitches; but in the drier, bouncier places like Australia and South Africa, there's no doubt that Australia have shown us that aggressive/attacking play works.

    Cook is a good batsman and a nice guy. Some decent runs off his bat will restore form/confidence not only for himself, but the whole team. It's high time Cook et al. threw away the 'Strauss textbook on Captaincy' and create their own. I also feel Cook needs to communicate/support his players more in the field. In many games, he has cut a forlorn figure standing with his arms crossed in the slips or wherever; I just think he needs to lose that petulance and enjoy games again.

  • POSTED BY serious-am-i on | May 18, 2014, 10:57 GMT

    if Cook becomes a good captain, I pity on the game's future, as that would mean all the opposing captains have become miserable. A good batsman need not be a good captain, Cook falls in the same category. Honestly speaking.. I'm unable to select anyone as captain in the current English side. Bopara seems to have a good head but he himself isn't consistent in the ODI's, so let's not even talk about his prospects of a test career.

  • POSTED BY andrew-schulz on | May 18, 2014, 7:17 GMT

    Landl47 England don't do whitewashes on Australia. Not since 1886 in a 3-match series. Certainly not now. Australia could lose 6 quicks and still have no one in their side as bad as Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett, or Stephen Finn. Heck, Australia's tenth best quick is probably better than Bresnan. Over the next five years you will find that it is all about depth, my friend. Very lucky to get as close as you did last summer.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | May 18, 2014, 6:34 GMT

    I didn't think Bell was interested in the captaincy. Didn't I read that somewhere only a little while ago? .. If Bell doesn't want to be a captain I can't see the point in forcing him. Declining on the grounds that you have absolutely no desire is a more honourable way to go then take it on because everyone expects then fail monumentally and set your team back another few years.

    @ land47: Good to hear about your left arm slowie. Every team needs a spinner. .. did you know we've got 3 young leggies rolling their arms over at the moment. Murhead, Zampa and the other bloke whose name escapes me. All in the early 20's and looking very promising across a range of formats. .. Exciting years ahead I'd say.

  • POSTED BY Rufus_Fuddleduck on | May 18, 2014, 3:58 GMT

    So true deedeeess .... Cook thinks of himself as a lawyer, entitled to "practice" all his life and one of these days his skills will develop. Bell will retire as the most promising talent to have come out of England after maybe Derek Randall ... all others in the interim either didn't have it or did something with it!! Stepping back from the Ashes, after all these months, nothing seems to have come of it except a rather un-gentle dismantling of the old guard. Of course two home series can perk up any team but then Downton and Cook are looking at building a base for a decade .... and there's precious little in word or action. Granted not everyone can be intelligent but then something somewhere has to penetrate dumb skulls like mine. When o when is the rebuilding coming forth?

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | May 18, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    @FFLNAH: I want to see a competitive contest next year, too, so dare I say it, I hope Johnson and Harris can stay fit for Australia. If those two are out, you might be looking at a reverse whitewash.

    I'm not sure whether he'll be ready during Cook's captaincy, but Middlesex has a young left-arm spinner called Ravi Patel who looks the best prospect I've seen for 6 years (since Swann debuted). He has a quick arm like almost all good spinners (Warne, Ajmal, Murali and Swann himself, to name a few) so he is difficult to pick. His control is good and he already has good variations. He's only 22 and has played a handful of FC games, so it's way too early to start boosting him as an England player, but unlike so many of the county spinners he really does look like a top prospect. Watch out for him over the next few years.

  • POSTED BY on | May 17, 2014, 21:27 GMT

    Strikingly selfless remarks from one who, to my mind, should already have been named England captain over Cook, and whom I'd like to see in that role for the next couple of years.

  • POSTED BY deedeeess on | May 17, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    Cook has played over a hundred test matches and been the English test captain for almost two years now. Perhaps instead of wondering about whether Cook will be become a great captain, Bell should be more worried about whether he will ever become an adequate one. If it were Graeme Smith in his early 20s, I would understand all the allowances being made, but Cook has no such excuse. The real concern is that his failings as a captain were apparent last summer in the home Ashes series, but he, and England were lucky enough for them to be papered over. He was cruelly exposed over the winter and it was not so much that his plans failed; rather that he had none.

  • POSTED BY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on | May 17, 2014, 13:05 GMT

    Interesting times, certainly, regarding Cook's captaincy as other posters have pointed out.

    Will it flower in a, perhaps, less claustrophobic atmosphere or will it be a case of Bambi in the headlights at the first real sign of difficulty? If it's the latter Downton, Cook and others have nailed, glued and riveted their colours to the mast over this and expect more carnage.

  • POSTED BY cloudmess on | May 17, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    It is strange that Bell is almost still seen as a promising batsman who hasn't quite made his mark on test cricket. He averages over 45 from 98 matches, which more than shows he can take the heavy duties of test cricket. I'll miss his partnerships with KP though. Cook could be a great captain. Moores could be a great coach. But neither is likely. Until a few quality men with backbone are appointed to manage the English game again, we're in for some dark days ahead.

  • POSTED BY SagirParkar on | May 17, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    i like Cook as a batsman and do appreciate his skills.. I have been a big fan of him since his debut..

    however, if Cook ever became a 'great' captain, i'll eat my hat !

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | May 17, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    Whether or not Cook can make giant strides in his captaincy skills is, for me, the most intriguing question hanging on the Test matches this summer. He starts from a newly set baseline and, with the recent clear-out now complete, a blank sheet. As landl47 has already commented, he has had to serve his apprenticeship in captaincy in the full glare of Test cricket - not an easy thing to do. And the worse things got, the more his confidence was undermined - witness his own form with the bat. A captain whose confidence is high should be able to overcome the personal disappointment of a low score. That's one good way of demonstrating robust captaincy. With Prior in all probability side-lined (at least for a while), his v/c needs to be supportive & confidence-inspiring and if Jimmy leads the attack, then Ian Bell who seems to have all the right credentials, would be the obvious choice for all other matters. Right now, I give Cook 3/10 for his captaincy. If it's 7/10 by Sept, that'd be great.

  • POSTED BY steve48 on | May 17, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    Lets hope the loss of charismatic, influential batsmen will inspire Bell to see himself as one, and remember his single handed efforts last summer. As to this whole captaincy thing, Cook inherited a team with too many players past their peak, either physically or mentally, and even worse, a mixture of Flower, Cook, a legion of backroom staff and senior players underestimated their opponents going in to the ashes, on the back of previous series against them. I just hope we aren't going from one extreme to another, and Cook goes from loss of control to trying to dictate everything! Winning a series involves setting plans in place for the opposition, using captain, coaches and key players, and then the skipper controlling the carrying out of these plans. That control will only work through involving Bell, Broad, Jimmy etc in the pre planning, though, along with a positive, welcoming attitude to new players, and the will to fight!

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on | May 17, 2014, 7:41 GMT

    @bob, land, x, I agree with all you say. I like Bell and Cook but I don't think test matches are the place to learn how to be a captain. Broad started captaining with little experience and that showed. They are going to stick with Cook though so let's see. I think it's good to see a new coach and hopefully some new faces, things got stale under Flower. They need to let the 'potential' players like Root go and make runs in county cricket instead of them failing over and over at international level. I'm hoping to see a new keeper too. We won the Ashes back but I think cricket fans want a contest next year so dare I say it, I hope England do get a competitive side together.

  • POSTED BY on | May 17, 2014, 7:18 GMT

    Retaining a captain whose captaincy has been criticised repeatedly for a lack of initiative for years and who went from 3 - 0 to 0 - 5 against the same opponents inside six months where three of his fast bowlers played less than a handful of tests between them and who lost three vital members to the side in the process, one of them acrimonously and underhandedly, can hardly be described as wise. While retaining Cook the batsman makes sense, Cook the captain will be remembered by history as Captain Failure. The reins should have been passed to Bell himself and Cook taken time off for a year.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | May 17, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    @ landl47 : What you described is one of the problems with Central Contracts. I think our board has tried to lessen the impact by encouraging contracted players to play Shield cricket at every opportunity. I guess it sort of works because we think we've already identified our next captain in Steve Smith. He gets good reports whenever he steers NSW around. .. I don't know what England do, but as I said, it seems to help us a bit.

    @ xtrafalgarx : Yes, I agree re. Bell. If I was feeling mean I might call him Tinker Bell because of the Peter Pan bubble around him.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | May 17, 2014, 3:21 GMT

    So funny how people keep talking about Bell 'coming of age' and 'improving'. The Blokes nearly played 100 TESTS! Jees, i would hate to think England carried a guy who hadn't reached his potential in that long!

  • POSTED BY Ms.Cricket on | May 17, 2014, 0:23 GMT

    Cook is a nice guy but if he cannot succesfully include Peitersen immediately then he will not succeed. Except for Bell and Borad England have no class players currently.

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | May 16, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    It depends which media report you read, but Bell seemed to give equal weight to the loss of both players, Kevin and Swann, as being difficult to replace in the England team. He said that Kevin could win a match on his own. I notice that quote has not been used in this story. Let's not massage the facts. There's enough anti-KP propaganda as it is without omitting a favourable remark.

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | May 16, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    It depends which media report you read, but Bell seemed to give equal weight to the loss of both players, Kevin and Swann, as being difficult to replace in the England team. He said that Kevin could win a match on his own. I notice that quote has not been used in this story. Let's not massage the facts. There's enough anti-KP propaganda as it is without omitting a favourable remark.

  • POSTED BY Ms.Cricket on | May 17, 2014, 0:23 GMT

    Cook is a nice guy but if he cannot succesfully include Peitersen immediately then he will not succeed. Except for Bell and Borad England have no class players currently.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | May 17, 2014, 3:21 GMT

    So funny how people keep talking about Bell 'coming of age' and 'improving'. The Blokes nearly played 100 TESTS! Jees, i would hate to think England carried a guy who hadn't reached his potential in that long!

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | May 17, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    @ landl47 : What you described is one of the problems with Central Contracts. I think our board has tried to lessen the impact by encouraging contracted players to play Shield cricket at every opportunity. I guess it sort of works because we think we've already identified our next captain in Steve Smith. He gets good reports whenever he steers NSW around. .. I don't know what England do, but as I said, it seems to help us a bit.

    @ xtrafalgarx : Yes, I agree re. Bell. If I was feeling mean I might call him Tinker Bell because of the Peter Pan bubble around him.

  • POSTED BY on | May 17, 2014, 7:18 GMT

    Retaining a captain whose captaincy has been criticised repeatedly for a lack of initiative for years and who went from 3 - 0 to 0 - 5 against the same opponents inside six months where three of his fast bowlers played less than a handful of tests between them and who lost three vital members to the side in the process, one of them acrimonously and underhandedly, can hardly be described as wise. While retaining Cook the batsman makes sense, Cook the captain will be remembered by history as Captain Failure. The reins should have been passed to Bell himself and Cook taken time off for a year.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on | May 17, 2014, 7:41 GMT

    @bob, land, x, I agree with all you say. I like Bell and Cook but I don't think test matches are the place to learn how to be a captain. Broad started captaining with little experience and that showed. They are going to stick with Cook though so let's see. I think it's good to see a new coach and hopefully some new faces, things got stale under Flower. They need to let the 'potential' players like Root go and make runs in county cricket instead of them failing over and over at international level. I'm hoping to see a new keeper too. We won the Ashes back but I think cricket fans want a contest next year so dare I say it, I hope England do get a competitive side together.

  • POSTED BY steve48 on | May 17, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    Lets hope the loss of charismatic, influential batsmen will inspire Bell to see himself as one, and remember his single handed efforts last summer. As to this whole captaincy thing, Cook inherited a team with too many players past their peak, either physically or mentally, and even worse, a mixture of Flower, Cook, a legion of backroom staff and senior players underestimated their opponents going in to the ashes, on the back of previous series against them. I just hope we aren't going from one extreme to another, and Cook goes from loss of control to trying to dictate everything! Winning a series involves setting plans in place for the opposition, using captain, coaches and key players, and then the skipper controlling the carrying out of these plans. That control will only work through involving Bell, Broad, Jimmy etc in the pre planning, though, along with a positive, welcoming attitude to new players, and the will to fight!

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | May 17, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    Whether or not Cook can make giant strides in his captaincy skills is, for me, the most intriguing question hanging on the Test matches this summer. He starts from a newly set baseline and, with the recent clear-out now complete, a blank sheet. As landl47 has already commented, he has had to serve his apprenticeship in captaincy in the full glare of Test cricket - not an easy thing to do. And the worse things got, the more his confidence was undermined - witness his own form with the bat. A captain whose confidence is high should be able to overcome the personal disappointment of a low score. That's one good way of demonstrating robust captaincy. With Prior in all probability side-lined (at least for a while), his v/c needs to be supportive & confidence-inspiring and if Jimmy leads the attack, then Ian Bell who seems to have all the right credentials, would be the obvious choice for all other matters. Right now, I give Cook 3/10 for his captaincy. If it's 7/10 by Sept, that'd be great.

  • POSTED BY SagirParkar on | May 17, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    i like Cook as a batsman and do appreciate his skills.. I have been a big fan of him since his debut..

    however, if Cook ever became a 'great' captain, i'll eat my hat !

  • POSTED BY cloudmess on | May 17, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    It is strange that Bell is almost still seen as a promising batsman who hasn't quite made his mark on test cricket. He averages over 45 from 98 matches, which more than shows he can take the heavy duties of test cricket. I'll miss his partnerships with KP though. Cook could be a great captain. Moores could be a great coach. But neither is likely. Until a few quality men with backbone are appointed to manage the English game again, we're in for some dark days ahead.