After another tournament which promised much, England crashed out of Euro 2016 in humiliating fashion, and many are struggling to really understand what went wrong.
There was a lot of hope and belief going into the tournament. We had the Premier League’s top scorer leading the line, we had the energy and skill of Dele Alli with Rooney’s experience in central midfield, and probably the best full backs in the whole competition. And, unlike in many other tournaments, we had very strong competition for places in goal and up front as well. So how on earth has this competition gone so wrong? Here are the main reasons that I’ve picked out for why it’s all fallen apart.
1. Roy Hodgson
Obviously it’s always easy to blame the manager after a tournament, but Hodgson has a lot of answering to do (which he doesn’t seem willing to answer). I have to question the use of a 4-3-3 when we only had one winger at the tournament. Our plan B was a diamond formation which I think is dated and ridiculous as it is. Hodgson needs to answer why he persisted with players who were out of form, who clearly weren’t at the races, when players like Barkley and Lallana didn’t even get a chance in that final game, and our best player in that game, Marcus Rashford, only played four minutes.
Hodgson’s attitude to exiting the competition has been defensive and almost insulting to the fans, and where I might have had sympathy for him before, I now have absolutely none. He’s blundered his way through three tournaments and whilst our players may have improved, our form hasn’t, and England deserve nothing more than to be hopping on that plane home.
2. Players off form
The form of our bigger players will be a real concern for most. Harry Kane didn’t turn up at at all, and looked very poor, as did Dele Alli. Eric Dier showed signs of class but moments of inexperience and couldn’t match his form for Spurs, though I have to sympathise as he wasn’t playing with a strong set of midfielders around him. Our only winger, Sterling, was in terrible form. I feel sorry for the youngster, but his performances were a joke. It’s almost as if his move to Man City was as good as it can get for him and he’s stopped performing since. Joe Hart had the worst tournament of any player there, and couldn’t make the saves to make up for the errors either. His passion is boarding on psychotic as he screams and shouts and shows his love for his country but lacks the composure and level head needed to carry your country through big tournaments. Jack Wilshere didn’t justify his inclusion at all, and clearly wasn’t ready, though still completed more dribbles than any other England midfielder (which shows how poor they all were). Amongst all this, Jamie Vardy justified signing his contract with Leicester and rejecting Arsenal, as he proved he can’t perform in a team that keeps possession.
3. Are these players ‘great’?
No I don’t then they are. I don’t think Harry Kane is a great player. I think he’s a very very good player, but the best players in the world do it for their country and do it on the biggest stage of all. They perform when they’re in a new environment with new players and a new manager, because that’s how good they are. Messi does it, Ronaldo does it, but they’re extremes. Julian Draxler is doing it now, Graziano Pelle is doing it now, Romelu Lukaku is doing it now, Aaron Ramsey is doing it now. England’s players couldn’t adapt and that’s a seriously worrying situation for the new manager and one he has to try and fix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just Kane, they’ve all fallen way short and these players with ‘fantastic potential’ haven’t done it and the rest of the world are laughing.
Ill admit I may have been harsh, I mean how can we expect Kane and Alli to carry a nation at such a young age? I really hope they learn from this and the team takes the criticism and perfects their flaws. They’re undoubtedly a talented bunch, but they’re not as good as they think they are, and experience more than anything will improve them and take them higher.
What have we learnt?
I think we’ve learnt how good the Premier League really is, and we’ve learnt how good are players really are. We’re an improving nation but we need the manager to get the best out of this pool of talented youngsters. Just because they’ve had a bad tournament I don’t believe they’re history. They still have the class and England fans should be hopeful that with the right manager this team can be great. It does come from the players first though, and they need to step up and work for that badge on the shirt. Premier League clubs need to raise their standards and these youngsters need to be a part of that. We need to bring El Classico to England, we need to replicate the Germans and teach a system based on technique and ability. We need to stop picking players because they’re bigger or more athletic than others, it’s very simply: what do you do with the ball once you have it. The Italians, Spanish, French and Germans all do it better than us and it’s embarrassing. The Premier League is hard, but the Champions League is another level and these players aren’t performing in Europe at the moment, not for club or country. Until English football begins to succeed at club level, we can’t succeed at international level.