England were dumped out of Euro 2016 by Iceland, ranked 34th in the world, at the last 16 stage last Monday evening.
England’s football campaigns seem to conclude the same way every 2 years with airport arrivals amidst an atmosphere of blame, resignations and a post-mortem. With English football now going through another bout of soul-searching, here are my four reasons why it all went so wrong for the Three Lions.
- Unfamiliar Tactics
England played with a 4-1-2-1-2 (diamond) throughout the whole of the qualifying campaign.
The decision to start against Russia with a 4-3-3 was taken due to the fact that it that particular formation worked well against Germany.
For Hodgsen to go off 1 game in making his decision to play a 4-3-3 in this tournament was ridiculous, causing the players to completely readjust to a new style of play. Perhaps most frustratingly, the 11 players that beat Germany 3-2 in such thrilling circumstances in Berlin were never selected together in the tournament
This wasn’t a mere tactical shift where Roy adjusted the wingers to play higher or for the midfielders to drop back, it was a total change of the way in which England had been playing for the last 2 years and would have confused the players.
This decision was made even stranger by the fact that Hodgsen only brought 1 winger with him to France, Raheem Sterling – the squads most out of form & low in confidence player.
2. Strange starting XI
You have to find a way to fit your best players in their best positions and having Sturridge, Vardy and Lallana all being played in unfamiliar positions reduced what they could offer to the team significantly.
Starting Sterling against Russia was a gamble that didn’t pay off, one which you can forgive since managers have to take risks. However, starting with him and Harry Kane against Iceland was a joke of a decision. 2 completely out of form and confidence players who would have and were out shone by Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford when they eventually came on.
Perhaps the most frustrating game in hindsight was England’s final group game, vs Slovakia. England knew that they needed to beat Slovakia to win Group B and set up what would have been a last-16 tie with a plucky but technically limited Northern Ireland side. So Roy Hodgson made six changes, robbed his side of any width, and completely threw off any potential understanding formed by his first-choice back four.
3. Players not playing to their full ability
Bar Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill, Eric Dier and Marcus Rashford, I don’t think any of the English players can look back on their performances with pride.
Harry Kane looked a shadow of the player he was last season, Rooney predictably dull and Dele Alli didn’t provide the spark we expected.
Joe Hart did his best to show he is no longer good enough to play for England at major international tournaments. The Manchester City goalkeeper was simply abysmal throughout the tournament and seemed to be over hyped which resulted in a lack of concentration.
The players at the top of their game have the ability to win a game single handed for their team. We’ve seen Payet, Bale, Ramsey, Hazard and many others do it but England’s players could never seem to consistently play well throughout the 90 minutes or back up a good performance with another impressive one.
4. Poor Management
Roy Hodgson has to take ultimate responsibility for this dismal capitulation. Whereas Iceland were extremely well-drilled and every player knew his job, the same cannot be said of England. His game plan seemed to be: throw on more strikers and hope for the best. It’s okay to have an ace in your pack, but simply sticking strikers on and hoping they score is the hallmark of terrible management.
Hodgsen looked static and lifeless on the touchline. He continued to make questionable decisions one after the other – Harry Kane on set pieces, Sterling & Kane starting vs Iceland, putting Rashford on too late.
Where do England go from here?
The English FA don’t seem to have any idea who will replace Roy Hodgson as England manager – and the lack of obvious contenders suggests there is no simple solution to this leadership debate.
There’s no system that England are being taken forward with so I would like a tactically astute manager who would implement and progress with tactics that fit this current bunch of players. It’s not an easy job to remould a team and therefore I think England should go with the international experience of Klinsmann, Blanc or Hoddle.