The game's best-kept secret became general knowledge yesterday. David Whittle, the England team manager, resigned a week before the team's departure for the elite Champions Trophy in Berlin - though he has now decided to continue.
At a presentation to Whittle at his Havant club, Peter Sharpe, chairman of the International Teams' Committee, spoke of the resignation and how Whittle had initially agreed to continue only until after the Berlin event in the interests of English hockey and to avoid any disruption of the team's chances. But Sharpe said that he had refused to accept the manager's resignation.
Whittle said: "We talked it over and I agreed to continue. Change is necessary and it is easier to achieve from within rather than without." His original decision to resign followed differences with the chief executive of the Association partly connected with reductions in budgets and over the style of leadership. Sharpe paid tribute to Whittle's contribution and commitment in lifting the morale of England's elite players after he took over following the Barcelona Olympics.
Sharpe said: "The disparity in funding has to a large extent been covered by unstinting commitment of managers and coaches at all levels, particularly David Whittle and Chris Pickett (another member of the Havant club, currently manager of the England Under-21s) and it is these efforts which have helped England cling on to their top-six world ranking".
Sharpe pointed out that while England's senior squad budget for the last financial year had been cut to pounds 75,000, the Dutch were working with pounds 325,000. He said that David Whittle had an important part to play in the crucial debate which he hoped would follow the affair. Whittle, and the coach David Whittaker, who has supported Whittle's stance, now have the challenge of taking Great Britain to Barcelona in January for the Olympic qualifier and, it is hoped, on to the Atlanta Games.