England Head Coach Steve McClaren has today been sacked after England failed to reach the finals of a major tournament for the first time in 13 years.
England needed to only draw with Croatia at Wembley last night to qualify ahead of Russia but were defeated 3-2 and Russia's 1-0 victory over Andorra saw them join the Croats in Austria and Switzerland next summer.
England looked to have been out after a 2-1 defeat in Russia in October but Russia's last gasp defeat in Israel last weekend put England back in the driving seat. A draw would be enough to finish 2nd whilst a 2-0 win would see them win Group E ahead of Croatia.
Those dreams were hit within the first 15 minutes as a Scott Carson own goal and a strike from Olic put Croatia 2-0 up. England fought back in the second half with a Frank Lampard penalty and a Peter Crouch chest and volley bringing England level and putting them on that plane to finals but a long range strike Petric sealed England's and McClaren's fate.
A statement on the FA's Website read:
At a meeting this morning, The FA Board unanimously decided to terminate the contract of England Head Coach Steve McClaren with immediate effect.
The Board also terminated the contract of Assistant Coach Terry Venables.
The Board have agreed that there will now be a full root and branch examination of the whole England senior team set-up, which will begin with immediate effect. This will be led by Brian Barwick reporting into the Chairman, who will update the Board.
Chief Executive Brian Barwick has been given authority to identify the new Head Coach and to report back to the Board with his recommendation. There is no definitive timeframe for the recruitment of the new Coach.
FA Chairman Geoff Thompson said, "Like every England fan, we are all bitterly disappointed that we have failed to qualify for Euro 2008, and I know Steve feels that disappointment more than anyone.
"Of course we have no divine right to play in major tournaments, but it is quite right that qualification is expected.
"I would like to thank Steve for the work he has done since taking on the position last summer. His commitment to the job could not be questioned and I wish him the best for the future.
"The recruitment process for the new Coach begins now and we will do everything to get the right man for the job."
Aston Villa's Martin O'Neill and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho are the early front-runners for the job.
Well it's confirmed that England will not be heading to Euro 2008 next summer and here's some other uncomfortable facts to contend with on a morning of mourning:
First time England have lost 3 qualifying matches since the 1982 World Cup Qualifying. England still Qualified then though!
Croatia are the first team to do the "double" over England in a Qualifying Tournament.
Despite being heavily criticised Sven Goran Eriksson lost just ONE qualifying game in his THREE Qualifying Tournaments. McClaren has lost THREE in just ONE Tournament.
Euro 2008 will also be the first time no British participant has been at the finals. Even though England failed to Qualify for the 1994 World Cup Finals in the USA the Republic of Ireland did.
In the Premier League, the top four clubs (Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea) their squads contain a total of 33 English players out of a total of 115 players in the four squads.
Whilst the bottom four clubs in the Premier League (Middlesbrough, Bolton, Wigan and Derby) their squads contain a total of 57 English players out of 117 in total. This proves the best clubs in England are packed with foreign talent, whilst the worst clubs are the ones with the Nations hopes pinned to them.!