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Thomas denies issuing Johnson ultimatum
ESPNscrum Staff
October 17, 2011

The Rugby Football Union's acting chief executive, Martyn Thomas, insists that Martin Johnson is not under pressure to decide within the next week if he wants to remain on as England team manager.

Following England's Rugby World Cup exit at the hands of France last Saturday week, Thomas revealed that he had given Johnson seven to 14 days to decide if wanted to seek a new contact when his existing deal expires at the end of the year. However, Thomas has now claimed that his statement had been misinterpreted.

"I hadn't intended it to be seen as an ultimatum," he told The Telegraph. "Martin can take whatever time he feels it is necessary to take.

"I have always been supportive of Martin and I continue to be so. Those comments have been taken out of context."

Thomas did indeed voice his support for Johnson immediately after the shock loss to Les Bleus but the latter's hopes of holding on to his job appeared bleak after Fran Cotton, the man charged with chairing an independent review of the entire Rugby Football Union (RFU) structure following England's disappointing World Cup campaign, publicly criticised the coach and his players for their performances in New Zealand.

Cotton is due to report his findings by the end of November but another former England international, Will Carling, is unsure if Johnson will even bother sticking around until then.

"I don't know if Johnno will put himself up again, whether he will actually even put his name in the hat," he said. "I personally think that even he would be hard-pushed to say the coaching team should stay.

"He's a very loyal man and if he is told the coaching team needs to change, would he still hang around? I don't know.

"I also think Johnno is all about winning. He was an incredible player, he was an incredible captain, and if you sit down and assess the last three and a half years, has it been good enough? Have England progressed far enough? Personally, I don't think they have."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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