Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Interim tag made Lancaster - Flood

Toby Flood, pictured, believes Stuart Lancaster benefited from being interim England coach

Rafael Benitez may regard Chelsea's decision to give him the title interim manager as a "massive mistake", but Toby Flood believes it was the making of England coach Stuart Lancaster.

Lancaster was given the same title when he was asked to replace Martin Johnson before last year's RBS 6 Nations. The common consensus was that he was temporary appointment pending the arrival of Nick Mallett. England won the championship, however, with Lancaster's success in overhauling the squad and its culture identifying him as Johnson's natural successor.

"In some respects Stuart came in as an interim, Rafa Benitez-esque, boss that meant it was win-win," the Leicester fly-half said. "Stuart viewed it as though he had a chance and in order to succeed he was going to do exactly what he wanted to do."

He went on: "You can create an environment. All clubs have different cultures, we all know what Leicester is like for example. And Sale.

"Before results, come performances, before performances comes culture. That's what Stuart's tried to create.

"We want to win, but we're worried about the culture. If we get that right and the desire and want to play for the shirt right, the results come.

"Benitez's problem is that he doesn't have the support of the fans. That wasn't the same for Stuart because he always said they were fundamentally important to us.

"Benitez was operating in the context of having slagged a team off and then becoming their manager, which changes things.

"But for Stuart being interim was a way of going 100% at it. It was a big, big shot and in a way was an open job interview."

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