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Swinging the axe isn't right answer blasts Johnson; RUGBY UNION.

MARTIN JOHNSON insisted that sacking his under-fire coaches to appease "hysterical" critics would have been the cowardly way out of a disappointing autumn campaign and bad for England's future.

England lost to Australia and New Zealand either side of a laboured victory over Argentina, which prompted former internationals Josh Lewsey and Will Greenwood to call vehemently for changes at the top.

Forwards coach John Wells and defence coach Mike Ford, who have both been part of the England set-up since 2006, came under the most intense scrutiny.

Johnson stressed he would have made changes had he felt they were in the best interests of England's progression to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

But he blasted the criticism as "ridiculous" and said: "The easy thing for me to do would be to go, 'Yes, you are right', sack x, y and z and buy yourself some time and blame someone else.

"That would be easy to do but it wouldn't be right.

"It is not nice to sack people but if I thought the decision was in the best interests of the team, I would make it.

"We are not satisifed with the way we have played. We know when we have not been good enough. We know we can do better.

"If we have not been playing well, which we haven't, we will stand there and take criticism. But some of the criticism has been so wide of the mark and almost hysterical.

"It becomes ridiculous at times and it goes too far. Frankly, a lot of people don't actually know what goes on and what happens."

Johnson was particularly angered by the criticism of Wells, with some critics suggesting he had gone "stale" while Lewsey described his achievements as "terrible".
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 27, 2009
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