By Rod Gilmour
Bobby Crutchley will lead England and Great Britain to Tokyo 2020 after securing his job as head men’s coach, The Hockey Paper can disclose.
Crutchley’s stay of execution was granted following an extensive review into the Rio Games’ failings where GB men finished ninth.
But England Hockey has decided that Crutchley is the right man of the job and will take the helm for a second Olympic cycle, which will start in earnest at this summer’s men’s World League in London.
Crutchley admitted that he had conducted his own “soul searching” following “a difficult few months after the devastating result in Rio.”
Asked if he had feared for his future after the men’s Rio performance, Crutchley said: “The reality is with a result like that. I had to have a good look at myself and whether I wanted to continue. I am delighted to stay on and I can’t wait to get on with things.”
Great Britain had produced several notable results during the Rio cycle and Crutchley believed that the squad was making inroads to the top of the world rankings.
“The problem I felt was that although we got closer to the teams ahead of us, so the teams behind were also catching up,” he said.
“If we had executed areas differently we could have finished higher. It was fine margins.
Crutchley took over as head coach in February 2013 after being part of the coaching staff at the previous two Olympic Games.
He oversaw a rankings rise – England are currently seventh – a World Cup semi-final and Commonwealth Games bronze medal, while half the Rio squad experienced their first Olympics.
“Bobby is the right man for the job,” admitted Ed Barney, England Hockey’s new performance director. “There has been progress made in the last cycle but perhaps not how we wanted.
“I am genuinely excited about the next cycle on the men’s and women’s programmes. The head coaches are excited about some of the new players coming into the new cycle, more so than the last few years.”
It is set to be a busy month for England Hockey with news on funding, centralised squad announcements and a host of potential awards in the offing for Team GB women.
The two centralised programmes could be announced before Christmas, although the new women’s national England and Great Britain captain, following the international retirement of Kate Richardson-Walsh, has yet to be determined.
The future of Crutchley’s assistants, as well as the women’s coaches alongside Danny Kerry, will not be finalised until UK Sport announces its four-year funding for hockey in the next few weeks. “It will be the final piece of the structure,” added Barney.
England are currently finalising plans for a warm weather camp, likely to be in South Africa at the end of February. Germany men are expected to also travel before England men hosts the first major tournament of the year at Lee Valley, England Hockey’s playing headquarters, in June.
Two men’s and two women’s World League semi-finals will take place at three locations between 15 June and 23 July.
Ten teams will take part in each semi-final, which act as qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
England men will welcome to London Olympic gold medallists Argentina, reigning European champions Netherlands, Asian champions India, Korea, Pakistan, plus four teams from World League round two.
You can purchase tickets for the World League in London here: englandhockey.seetickets.com