IN THE SPOTLIGHT: A photograph snapped in Murrayfield of World Cup-winning Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has set the England coaching job rumour mill alight.
Erasmus was snapped in the stands and it was posted to Twitter by Telegraph journalist Charlie Morgan.
South Africa play Scotland this July in a two-match series and the argument could be made that the Erasmus was in town on a run of the mill reconnaissance mission. The series kicks off in Cape Town and culminates a week later at Jonsson Kings Park in Durban.
However, Rapport in South Africa are reporting that the coach is in the UK to discuss a possible move to takeover from incumbent England head coach Eddie Jones next year.
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Erasmus has already taken a back seat with the Springboks, with Jacques Nienaber taking over with the Springboks.
Jones’ contract also expires in 2021 and he and the RFU have remained coy about whether or not he will sign beyond that date.
Speaking earlier this month, Jones said: “I heard Pep Guardiola talking about whether he’s going to re-sign at Man City. It’s a bit like that.
“The players tell you whether you should continue or not and that’s what I’m looking it. The players will let me know.
“If the players play well and the team is going well, then maybe you should continue. If the team’s indifferent then maybe they need a change.
“The only reason I’m continuing is because I think this team can improve. Over the next period of time I think we can become the best rugby team ever and that’s the exciting bit.
“The RFU only want me to continue if they think I can improve the team. The contract is important from a legal point of view but they want to win and I want to win.”
It is also reported that there are clauses in Erasmus’ contract which could see him exit South Africa if certain conditions were met.
Tuesdays 2-0 reverse at BMO Field was Gregg Berhalters 16th match as US head coach. On the surface a record of nine wins, two draws and five losses appears acceptable for a program rebuilding its roster and its self-respect after the shock of missing out on the 2018 World Cup. But the real test of Berhalters worth is not in how the US fillet the minnows. It doesnt really matter that they filled their boots against the likes of Cuba, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana.
What counts is that the US have lost twice on home soil to their biggest rivals, Mexico (1-0 in the Concacaf Gold Cup final and 3-0 in a friendly); were especially brittle in defeats to Venezuela and now Canada; and drew 1-1 with both Chile and an under-strength Uruguay, two of their strongest opponents this year.
Put another way, since Berhalters appointment was announced last December there have been no results that exceeded expectations against good teams; there is currently no reason to believe that the US would be anything but makeweights at Qatar 2022, should they qualify. And there is a lack of clear evidence that the team is trending in the right direction, despite individual positives such as the continued improvement of the midfielder Weston McKennie.
Given the road trip tribulations endured during the last World Cup qualifying cycle and the inexperience of many of the current crop it is ludicrous (ticket income aside) that this was Berhalters first away game. If the Americans could not handle a half-empty MLS stadium in Toronto, how badly might they fare in Mexico City, against Honduras in San Pedro Sula, or in the Costa Rican capital, San Jos?
The US have not won on the road since they beat Cuba 2-0 in Havana in October 2016. Tuesdays outcome extends that streak to 10 matches without a victory. The defining image of the evening for the Americans? Christian Pulisic being substituted after 60 fruitless minutes and then howling and gesturing in existential agony, Americas brightest star devolved into Munchs The Scream in shorts and shinpads.
Berhalter told reporters afterwards that the 21-year-old has been battling flu-like symptoms. Perhaps he also feels sore from carrying the team on his back for three years. A below-par Pulisic, whether through illness, injury or rust from his lack of minutes at Chelsea, would present a grave problem for an American side that has few good attacking ideas without him.
Still, key man off the field and 1-0 down with half an hour to play? That is a situation where a team might look to its coach to conjure an inspired substitution or a tactical masterstroke. But the response to Alphonso Davies 63rd minute goal was a string of sideways passes, possession without purpose, as the US chased the game with as much cutting edge as a preschoolers pair of plastic safety scissors. Canada continued to look quicker, more coherent and more dangerous and added a second on the break through Lucas Cavallini in stoppage time.
As well as seeking to end a 17-match winless streak against their neighbours, Canada were on the hunt for Fifa ranking points in order to rise above El Salvador, the worlds 72nd best team. The top six Concacaf nations in Fifas rankings next June will go into the Hexagonal World Cup qualifying round, which delivers three automatic berths for a trip to Qatar.
The Americans, meanwhile, looked like they felt it would be uncool to get too worked up about a Concacaf Nations League group fixture. I wasnt happy with the desire that we displayed tonight, Berhalter told reporters. That is a jarring admission. Spirit used to be a given whenever a US side took the field at least until the dog days of the Jrgen Klinsmann regime.
Did the team think they could glide past an improving Canada on skill alone? A misguided belief, if so. Berhalter does not have a vintage crop of players at his disposal. And the US Soccer Federation poured pressure on itself, and the 46-year-old, by taking a year to appoint a permanent coach following the World Cup qualifying debacle, then choosing a low-profile figure who made his name as a tactician at a blue-collar MLS club.
Expectations remain high, even as the talent pool has grown more shallow. All the more important, then, that Berhalter lives up to his reputation as the method man – the clear-headed coach who devised a system that squeezed the best out of his players at the Columbus Crew.
The start of World Cup qualifying is still 11 months away, but another poor performance and result when Canada face the US in Orlando next month would see concern escalate into alarm. Ten months is not a long tenure and is less time than it took to complete the hiring process but patience is rightly in short supply among the fanbase, who have had enough of being told that the team is in learning mode and that setbacks are growing pains.
Suppressing doubts about Klinsmann and hanging on until after the start of the qualifying cycle before replacing him failed to work out last time. How long are Berhalters bosses prepared to wait for him to mould a team that is assertive, rather than aspirational? They are unlikely to be in a hurry.
The longtime MLS assistant and former USA defender is only the second African American head coach in league history
Robin Fraser stood stoic on the sideline at Red Bull Arena as the Colorado Rapids stymied the New York Red Bulls. To his right his former teammate, Chris Armas, was trying to rally the Red Bulls to come from behind, but a second Rapids goal has put the game to bed. It was the beginning of a stretch for the Colorado that would see the team win five out of six games, before falling just short of this seasons MLS playoffs.
Really fucking good, that felt really good, Fraser said when a Rapids staffer asked him how he felt after the whistle. He had not held a head coaching job for nearly seven years when the Rapids offered him the opportunity to return to his native Denver. In that span, Fraser served as the tactician behind the Red Bulls Supporters Shield win in 2013, and was the assistant to long-time friend Greg Vanney when Toronto FC became the first MLS team to win a domestic treble in 2017 and came within a penalty shootout of winning the Concacaf Champions League the following spring.
When Fraser took the sidelines again, it ended a span of over year in which MLS did not have a black coach. He is the fifth black coach ever in MLS and just the second African American. Before the Rapids offer came along, Fraser had been linked with several opportunities when he was an assistant. In interviews with the Guardianand others, Fraser said he didnt think race played a role in whether he was passed over for previous opportunities.
Although MLS has its own version of the Rooney Rule mandating teams to interview minority candidates for any coaching or technical staff position there are few African Americans on backroom staffs. One reason is the relatively high cost of coaching courses with A license courses costing $4,000. These costs weigh heavier on members of disadvantaged communities. The FA acknowledged this and implemented grants for coaches from black, asian and minority ethnicities to cover Uefa coaching costs, but USSF has not implemented a similar program. Still, Fraser said he saw the makeup of his coaching classes diversify.
Once upon a time, it was easier to go get licensed, but the courses now are far more detailed and as a result we are on the cusp of coaches becoming better and its something that Ive seen over the last five or six years, Fraser said. I feel like over the last five or six years, the coaching has gotten better because of the education and coaches are learning in a number of these advanced courses that are being offered.
Fraser said he was able to move more quickly through the process because he was a former player. US Soccers Pro License is only available to professional coaches. He said he has noticed that there are more minorities in the coaching classes that he recently took than when he began his education more than a decade ago.
When I did the Pro Course, it was only 12 to 15 people so its hard for me to say what the courses look like, but I do think there is a greater diversity of coaches coming through the courses, Fraser said. Its a function of the net being wider and more people playing. Theres a greater diversity of players and that means theres a greater of ex-players who are trying to be coaches.