As the dust settles on yet another lacklustre and timid display from the choking Three Lions, England have bowed out of Europe for the second time in a week. It’s rightly cost Roy Hodgson his job and questions are now being raised regarding the position of captain Wayne Rooney. I hereby throw my name forward for England head coach – I can’t do a much worse job than what we’ve seen for the last 4 years, and I’ll do it for a fraction of the £3.5 million a year that Hodgson rakes in.
The performance against Iceland was unacceptable – there was no direction, no leadership and no overall game plan. The passing was slow and careless with basic technique going out the window as the minutes started to slowly tick away. When the ball managed to make it into the box, it was only ever after Sturridge made frantic efforts to keep it in play, or Walker got lucky with another selfish run down the right.
The players lacked any of the swagger that you would expect from a team that cruised through its qualifying group; from a team filled with big names in international football. England really should have shown some serious intent in this competition and wiped the floor with Iceland. There should have been an apparent and effective game plan to break down this difficult defensive side, but there wasn’t. Hodgson was the highest paid manager at this year’s European Championships, and his opposite number, a part-time dentist.
A nation with a smaller population than Leicester, managed to ‘do a Leicester’ and thrive in that underdog role, scoring two relatively easy goals and waiting for England to do what they do best and crack under the pressure of a major tournament. That’s not taking away from Iceland’s performance because they knew that was all they had to do, as England would run out of tactical options after the first 10 minutes and the ever fearful Roy Hodgson would be too afraid to change things up.
Iceland definitely turned up to ruin the party and credit to them for doing so, reaching the Quarter Final of the European Championships is something England dreams of every four years. And now with Hodgson leaving his position, there is an opportunity for the FA to appoint someone with real leadership and the fear factor that England need again.
This reminds me of what happened after the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Stuart Lancaster had just lost his job after a humiliating exit from our own tournament and in came Eddie Jones, an Australian coach who knows what it takes to win. Jones has transformed England into a nasty, aggressive and powerful team that wins matches on and off the field.
For me, Jones’ was the right man for the job and his nationality was irrelevant in the matter. Obviously hindsight is a beautiful thing, but for the FA to appoint any of the names being thrown into the mix, then it’ll be another 50 years of hurt.
Gareth Southgate has done a terrific job with the U21s, but he’s not the manager that England need after another embarrassing showing of ourselves abroad. His place is with the U21s where there are initial glimpses of a young team forming under him.
Glenn Hoddle is another man who’s been talked about in the gossip columns, but he’s been out of management for some time now, and his first time in charge of England didn’t exactly end on amicable terms. After a poor start to England’s Euro qualifying campaign, Hoddle, unrelated to football, suggested in an interview that people were born with disabilities due to sins in a past life. Not ideal from him and ‘The Hod Squad’ suffered as a result. He wasn’t the right man for the job then and certainly not now.
Gary Neville’s name is also doing the round, but his time at Valencia suggests he’s not ready for the big job just yet. Having said that it was evident that he wasn’t accepted with open arms in Spain and it’s a different story here, as the former Manchester United and England stars commands great respect from the current crop of England players. He wouldn’t be such a farfetched option given his passion for the national team and the way he conducted himself as a player, he could instil some belief and fire back into this lethargic and directionless England side.
With Eddie Jones installed in his new role for England, he needed a new captain, and chose the combative and roaring Dylan Hartley to lead the pack. Whoever comes in now will have to ask serious questions over Wayne Rooney’s ability to lead his country. Against Iceland, England needed someone to grab them by the scruff of their neck and win that game. It was more than apparent that Hodgson wasn’t going to be the man to do it, so where was Rooney in last night’s game, picking up Gary Cahill and young Dele Alli after the final whistle had gone and all was already lost.
Personally I’d have Hart as captain, always bellowing the national anthem and carries his team in the tunnel when Rooney fails to do so. I imagine his voice is one that’s heard throughout the half time team talk, and he’d command great respect from the back. However, after his display this tournament, it’s obvious that he’s become very comfortable as England’s first choice stopper, and if I was the new manager, I’d be thinking about giving Forster a run of games between the posts and Butland when he eventually returns to the national set up.
So, yet again England have exited a major international tournament under embarrassing circumstances, the manager has lost his job and now comes the question of who is ready to pick up the pieces and take England into a new era. Personally I’d like someone who can get the Three Lions roaring again, and create a sense of belief that extends beyond the group stages.