Brooking plays the guru and go-between

Euro 2004 draw: Vital role for old England favourite as debate over Eriksson's future intrudes on Lisbon ceremony

The official Football Association diary no longer includes a list of senior staff, which is probably just as well - the newly cost-conscious organisation would forever be sending out updates and amendments. As it is, another lucrative television deal might have to be negotiated just to cover the constant cost of new letterheads and business cards.

Just like their 40,000 clubs, so with the FA, it seems, a change at the top means comings and goings all the way down the ladder. Just as a new club manager, chairman or chief executive wants his own favoured personnel around him, Mark Palios has been shaping his team to suit his personal preferences four months into the job, and will be closer to what he wants once the front door at Soho Square has stopped banging to and fro in the new year. Perhaps the world's most powerful domestic football organisation can then settle down to the period of stability they desperately need after more than a year of uncertainty following the ousting of Adam Crozier last autumn.

The most dramatic change in last week's reshuffle was the rightly applauded appointment of Trevor Brooking in a new role as director of football development, with responsibilities all the way up the football pyramid, from local parks and schools to the England team he represented with such distinction 47 times. The emphasis is on the word "development", and he will have much to say about bringing up and bringing on young footballers; conflict could arise early if he favours resurrecting the National Football Centre at Burton upon Trent, currently a victim of the savage cost-cutting imposed after Crozier's departure. Yesterday he said his priorities would include lobbying the Government for more funds and increasing the amount of PE in schools. He will also be instrumental in identifying an eventual successor to Sven Goran Eriksson.

It is not intended that Brooking will take over the duties of technical director, on which a salary has been saved since Howard Wilkinson resigned in the same month as Crozier for his ill-fated dalliance with Sunderland. Wilkinson's deputy, Les Reed, the former Charlton Athletic coach, is still doing the job in an acting capacity, which currently involves leading a seriously understrength England Under-20 team at the World Youth Championship in Dubai. He will doubtless want to bend the Brooking ear as soon as he returns about the lack of co-operation from leading clubs in releasing players for that trip and similar under-age matches.

That sort of liaison between clubs and the FA is an area in which Brooking can use all the respect he has earned down the years to badly needed effect. As the recent dramas over Rio Ferdinand and Alan Smith have shown, there is a similar role to be filled at full international level and, significantly, one FA insider pointed yesterday to Brooking's importance as "a conduit between the administrative side and the football team". Paul Barber, who had been doubling up as director of marketing and communications, found himself involved in that role during the recent disputes, and although he won praise from players and media for his dealings with both groups, there is no place for him in the Palios team.

Meanwhile, Eriksson and the players may - or may not - be as amused as everyone else by the appointment as communications director of a sports editor whose newspaper, the Daily Mail, famously derided the decision to appoint a foreign coach, called the squad "traitors" and last week suggested with an apparently straight face that Clive Woodward was ready to take Eriksson's job.

The coach has rather more to concern him this weekend, following Palios's untimely revelation that a new contract is now on offer to run right up to the 2008 European Championship. The chief executive decided soon after taking office in July that Eriksson was the man for the long term, and hints were first dropped about a contract extension the following month. But the Swede has proved reluctant to commit himself publicly even beyond next summer, when many feel he will return to club football in this country or in Italy.

Now the spotlight after today's Euro 2004 draw will inevitably shine on his future plans as much as next June's opponents. Brooking appeared to appreciate that point yesterday when he said: "If anything happens in the new year about a contract then fine, but everyone's job is to take any distraction away from Sven and the players so they can perform well."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent