England are deep in the midst of their latest root and branch post-tournament inquest, but Michael Graham blasts them for catching Sunderland in the crossfire.
Nobody said that it was going to be easy for England after their frankly humiliating Euro 2016 performance.
There needed to be an inquest and it needed to messy. Heads had to roll and fresh options needed to be sought. That’s all fine. No complaints from me on that score at all. In fact, if the FA decided to just hang the lot of them and start again from fresh, I doubt there would be many dissenting voices after that summer debacle.
What I do have a problem with, however, is the fact they have essentially dragged a Premier League club into limbo and holding it hostage while they take a leisurely stroll through their options.
If the FA decide to go for an English manager, then it probably has to be Sam Allardyce. I accept that. He’s not an especially inspiring name, but when the alternatives are Steve Bruce and Alan Pardew, Big Sam suddenly looks comparatively good.
But – and it’s a question very few seem to be asking – what of Sunderland in all this? How is this even remotely fair or respectful to them?
The Black Cats kick off their Premier League campaign in less than a month at Manchester City, and right now, through no fault of their own for once, have absolutely no idea who will be in the dugout.
More to the point, prospective new signings have no idea either, severely limiting their manoeuvrability in what is a very limited window of opportunity to strengthen a squad that needs it more than most.
Let’s face it, after so many years fighting against relegation, Sunderland can be a tough sell to most players anyway. Add in the fact that they are unable to even tell players or their agents who the manager will be and you’d might as well just forget about the telephone, get the Sudoku book out, and head off for a tactical workday toilet break for pretty much as long as you want.
Even if Sunderland can persuade their top targets to sign amid managerial uncertainty, who’s to say the any replacement coach will even want them, anyway?
Then there are the current players and staff, who were at a training camp in Austria this week trying to prepare for the new season while their own manager was back in England interviewing for another job. I’m sure Allardyce’s team of coaches were well briefed, but all the work and time invested on the current plan isn’t likely to do much good if a new manager suddenly arrives with little use for it.
The point is that, yes, the FA have a duty of care to the England team. It’s something they need to look after and get right. It’s perfectly fair.
But they also have a duty of care to the clubs in their association and, more importantly, to the integrity of competition in the Premier League – so by showing such flagrant disrespect for a club’s well-being to the point of taking an active, deliberate role in destabilising it, they are pretty much failing their remit on every single count right now.
Still, what should we expect from the boffins and berks behind the current England set-up?