James Johnson vows to back new FFA technical director Trevor Morgan

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Australia's newly installed interim technical director Trevor Morgan will not face the same barriers his predecessor did, FFA CEO James Johnson has assured ESPN.

Ostensibly one of the most important jobs in football, a nation's technical director holds sway across a wide swathe of critical national team and developmental responsibilities as part of their day-to-day duties. Yet, despite the importance of the role, its chair at FFA's headquarters has been a vacant one since March, when previous TD Rob Sherman abruptly tendered his resignation less than a year into his tenure.

After initially remaining tight-lipped regarding his reasoning following his departure, Sherman eventually took to LinkedIn to vent his frustrations with the barriers he felt he had faced while in the position; slamming an approach to the game that he labelled as siloed, bureaucratic and needlessly political.

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"I think [Morgan] will [have more success than Sherman did], because if we look at the XI Principles, they go further than only looking at football reforms," Johnson told ESPN in an exclusive interview. "They include governance reforms and also include commercial transformation as well.

"If we're able to implement the XI Principles and we're also able to implement some of the governance measures included in the principles, and the commercial ones, I think that that will help the implementation of the football principles.

"And I think, possibly, Rob [Sherman] didn't have the benefit of that during his tenure."

Referenced constantly in almost every FFA communique since its July release, the XI Principles laid forth an expansive agenda for change within the Australian game, with a laundry list of targets that not only covered the technical side of the game, but also restructurings of Australian football governance and financial models.

This wide-reaching mandate, Johnson contends, will put Morgan, who is set to have former AIS head coach Ron Smith at his disposal as a technical consultant, in a better place to use his experience in pursuing a reorganization of the technical side of Australia's game.

"I liked his vision for the football parts of the game," said Johnson. "Trevor is part of a new generation of great coaches that this country has developed -- I think we've probably undervalued that. We often have this ability to talk quite negatively about our sport and, sometimes, this is correct.

"But I think something we've done very well over the past decade is produce some very good coaches. We have coaches like Kevin Muscat who is coaching in Belgium, we have coaches like Ange [Postecoglou] in Japan and we have some very coaches coaching in the A-League.

"I would consider Trevor as part of that new generation, I think he's demonstrated his ability at both club and country level -- at the national level, he was very successful with the Joeys. He brings a new way of thinking, and I think he's someone that we can elevate as a result of being a product of the system. And I think that's a really important point.

"The announcement though, was made as a package deal and I think the other thing we need to do is really buy into or benefit from some of the experiences that we've got from people within the game that have been in the game for a long time -- 'Football IP' I like to call it.

"That's why we've brought in Ron Smith as well, who has more than 30 years worth of football experience in our country and his role is really to support Trevor as he eases his way into this role.

"I think what you've got here is a nice blend between a new way of thinking and experience. And I think both Trevor and Ron, they have a track record of being successful both on the pitch and with developing players."

Morgan is best known amongst the Australian public as the coach of the Joeys side that reached the knockout stages of the 2019 Under-17 World Cup and will continue as Australia's U17 boss after taking up the position of interim technical director -- joining Socceroos and Olyroos boss Graham Arnold as holding dual roles within the organisation.

Crucially for an FFA seeking to appoint someone with local knowledge of the game, Morgan has also previously worked as an assistant with the Young Socceroos, as a coach within Western Sydney Wanderers' academy, and as the Director of football of the prestigious Westfield Sports High.

"I think football is what it is -- I'm a different person, I have different ways of doing things, I have different targets in mind" Morgan, who was named to the post last Wednesday, told ESPN.

"I think also that COVID-19 presents a new opportunity because, for sure, every one of us is reconsidering every piece of our life and what the value is.

"People are probably more open to change and more open to some leadership, and we will try to lead people in a way where they would choose that change. They will see the common sense in that change, and they won't see a need to fight the change.

"I know I have the backing of the CEO and the board, but if I can explain something that makes common sense to someone and is simple and is a win for you I think people will choose it: because the product is better, because it's the obvious choice, and that's what we'll come up with."