England’s footballers should hold their heads in shame. Their performance against Iceland – a team consisting almost entirely of part-timers – was utterly shocking. Many fans have labelled it the worst England performance ever.
England were outfought, out-thought, out-ran and out-played. They looked cowardly and repeatedly got the simple things wrong.
Take nothing away from Iceland, they deserved to win. But this is a game that England should never, ever have lost. In a week where the national Rugby side made history in Australia, the nation’s footballers once again let the country down with a truly embarrassing display. The team looked devoid of ambition, lacking in ideas, and amateur.
Considering the optimism of the fans prior to the tournament, it’s especially disappointing. An unbeaten qualifying campaign was followed by friendly victories over both France and Germany – two of the favourites for Euro 2016 – and three further wins in the run up to the competition.
However, the warning signs were already there. Roy Hodgson clearly had no idea of what his best system was. He made the mistake common to countless previous England managers and picked players based on their reputation.
England also spent their games crying out for width. They played against narrow sides, but the fullbacks failed to capitalise on the space created. Taking Andros Townsend could have proved to be a masterstroke by Hodgson – instead, we were treated to the dismal displays of Raheem Sterling. Yet another ‘star‘ player usually left on the bench by his club.
These mistakes came home hard on Monday night. England lacked creativity, they lacked width and they lacked fight. It was utterly shambolic.
Roy to blame?
The manager must take the brunt of the blame and has accordingly resigned. His performances at tournament level have not been good enough – simple as that, despite the fact that he has been lucky to face easy qualifying groups throughout his time. The sides he has built do not play to their strengths: England are not suited to playing tiki-taka football. This only results in the ball being moved slowly across the backline, giving the opposition time to re-form.
It’s been incredibly frustrating for the fans to watch. Players were constantly played in the wrong position, whilst Roy’s substitutions were inept, with his only plan B to bring his strikers off the bench and to hope for the best. Hodgson has proved himself to be incapable of managing a national team, and not equipped to take on such a big job. He lacks passion, and doesn’t motivate his players. Most England fans will probably be glad to see the back of him, and who can blame them?
Even Hodgson’s harshest critics, however, will admit that some of the blame must be laid at the feet of the players. Joe Hart made yet another glaring error against Iceland. Wayne Rooney was diabolical in the second half, whilst Harry Kane continued his shocking run of form in Euro 2016.
These are players that a manager should be able to rely on. They are stalwarts and quality players, and watching them perform so far beneath the level they are capable of will make many sick to the stomach. Almost any fan would give anything for a chance to pull on an England shirt, so watching eleven men lacking in passion is galling indeed for the spectators.
There is something deeply wrong with English football. Players seem to have no pride in wearing their country’s shirt. England now need a manager to come in who can re-motivate them, remind them how lucky they are to be representing their country, and kick some sense into them.
There are a good set of players coming through for England right now. But, they need to be carefully developed to avoid the mistakes of the past, and to avoid any more embarrassments such as the one that occurred on Monday.
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