Why were England so sh*t?

Thursday, 30 June 2016

So where on earth did that clusterfuck of an England performance come from?

Roy Hodgson said that he did not really see THAT performance coming (a bit like a certain referendum result I am sure).  But should he really have been surprised given England’s form in the his tenure and also their previous history in knockout tournaments? 

The Manager
“I am not sure what I am really doing here” derided a rather fragile Hodgson in the press conference after the game. I think it’s called accountability Roy….

Anyway, the manager has to take his fair share of blame for the shambles in this tournament. I actually have a lot of respect for Roy for the sterling work he did at West Bromwich Albion that he did at the Hawthorns at his short time there. He saved us from relegation as well as providing us with the platform to go on and secure mid-table safety.

He also did an admirable job at Fulham in the Premier League as well as carving out a reasonable if not spectacular career in the European Leagues. However, he has had notable failures, his main one being an ill-fated stint at Liverpool.

Did this failure show that when handling top players at a top level, he simply was not able to reach the required standard? Roy is very good at getting a group of semi-decent players organised into a certain way of playing and being hard to beat. However, when handling a bunch of players with slightly better ability and with egos bigger than their pay packets does he have the ability and skill to get the best out of these players on the big level?  Does he quite simply have a ceiling on the level he can manage at?

He successfully navigated an easy group but the performances in both tournaments have been telling (I won’t include Euro 2012 as he was thrown in at the deep end)

In his time at the helm had he forged a certain way of playing so that the team understand where and how to function?  Looking at a side like Germany and Italy it seems that whichever players they have, the players seem to know what to do. This is meant to be the worst Italian side in history yet each player seems to know their exact role in the team.

Hodgson tinkered with his team before the tournament (remember the shambolic diamond experiment against Portugal) and even during the group games did not know his best team.  How can that really be possible. Minor tweaks I can understand but I don’t think he even knew his best 15, let alone first 11.

This must be one of the reasons for the players against Iceland having no idea, no game plan and looking like a bunch of Sunday league part timers.

Picking out of form players
The age old problem of picking names over players in form reared its ugly head. Danny Drinkwater was outstanding for Leicester but could not get in ahead of sicknote Jack Wilshere. Andros Townsend, who has shown his class for England before and finished strongly for Newcastle could not get in ahead of Sterling, a man whose confidence levels have dipped more strongly than his currency levels this week.  Why the f*ck do managers keep doing this?

Rooney had a shocker against Iceland but I personally don’t blame him, I blame the manager. Rooney had to either start as a main striker or not at all.  Rooney has been used sparingly for Manchester United in midfield but should not have been starting in the position for England having never played their in any of the qualifiers. The guy doesn’t have the engine for that position nor the experience.
Granted, Iceland are hardly Brazil but people have to understand that you are still playing at the highest level. When has Rooney ever been in the position as a midfielder where he has to grab hold of the game pull it out the bag for England. He never has! No wonder he completely went to shit!

Harry Kane on set pieces
Just how the f*ck can there not be another player in the England team who can take a corner or free kick??!?

Creative players
Where is the new Gazza?  When are we going to produce someone who can actually dribble, beat a player and control a game? Last time we did that we had Paul Scholes and we shoved him on the left wing for Christ’s sake.  Whilst other teams have a Payet, an Ozil or a Hazard we look to the bench and we have Jordan F*cking Henderson or James Milner. Need I say anymore

Are English players just too thick and too insular?
The usual excuses seem to have all run their course and since 1966 it seems like England have tried nearly everything without ever really looking like making a major imprint on the world stage.  We have tried English managers, foreign managers, youth, experience, pragmatism and also attacking football. We failed in hot countries, in cold countries, we have taken teams to isolated camps, we have taken teams to integrated areas.  So is there some underlying reason for England's failure that we are all missing out on? Is there a reason that we are just perhaps not very good?

If someone could answer that million pound question then I am sure it would have been done already and England would be World Cup Winners but personally think that one reason for England's failure to perform in big tournaments could be what I would deem to be lack of intelligence.

Footballers need many qualities and abilities for their profession.  Physical strength, skill, speed and perhaps an often ignored attribute...intelligence.  In all forms of life, intelligent people are generally good decision makers, find solutions and more often than not, remain calm under pressure.  

How often have we seen in major tournaments England's perceived lack of game management, naivety and in general, their lack of awareness on how to win games. How often have we bemoaned their lack of ability to maintain possession or to close a game out?

I think my intelligence argument has been heightened by looking at some of the punditry on the TV this year. Maybe I am just a sucker for a foreign accent but don't all the foreign footballers just sound more intelligent than England's? The likes of Bilic, Matthaus and Petit have offered inciteful analysis as opposed to someone like Alan Shearer who will generally stated “it’s just not good enough”.

On the other hand, the likes of Henry, Vialli and Kompany all seem to speak with a certain wit, widsom and smartness which embarrasses the likes of Savage, Shearer and such like.  In fact, I would go as so far as to say that even their English is better than the British nationals themselves.

Could anyone else imagine a Rio Ferdinand, a John Terry, a David Beckham or a Wayne Rooney going onto Brazilian TV and getting involved with the banter with Fernanda Lima. I don't think so.   These guys can barely put three words together in their own language, let alone a foreign tongue.

Associated with this is the lack of English players going abroad to other countries. You can probably count on one hand the amount of English players who have gone abroad in the last thirty years. The challenge of integrating into another culture, learning a new language, embracing different styles and opinions is a challenge which has not been befitting of many of the current crop of English players and dare I say requires a certain level of intelligence and know how.

Whilst I know England as a whole struggles with languages, how wonderful is it to see other players from foreign countries quickly assimilating into other cultures and fitting into their lifestyle.  Patrick Vieria, Gus Poyet, and Gianluca Vialli for example,  when they first came to England could not speak a word of English but within a couple of years were speaking extremely fluently.  And what do we get from English footballers in their post match interviews? "At the end of the day it was a tough game....etc etc."  Hardly the most inspiring of words.

So how does this lack of intelligence and awareness possibly translate to the pitch?  I think game management would be the main area, as it appears that English players only appear to know how to play the English way.  Often it is derided.."Why can't we play like Spain, Germany etc?". But this is not something you can just switch on and off, it's something which can only be learnt by playing with these players in different countries, gaining a deeper understanding of what makes them tick, how they play their football.

I'm not suggest that all footballers must be contestants on Countdown every week but perhaps a bit more footballing "education" (that's a nine letter word btw) would not go amiss and may help England finally perform better at tournaments in future.

Right, this has been an extremely boring article so to cheer you up here is a reminder of how things could be a lot worse if this man was in charge of anything…..albeit maybe more entertaining!


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