Following England’s embarrassing loss to Iceland, and subsequent exit from the European Championships, Sport Editor, Jack Pethick, reflects on arguably the most humiliating moment in English footballing history and what this means for the future of the national team.
What a horrible time to be English, and that’s putting Brexit aside. Last night I witnessed what was arguably the most dismal display ever conjured by an England team, and it had the most embarrassing result in English footballing history to compliment it. That’s right folks, England lost 1-2 to Iceland, a country whose population is the same size as Leicester, and boy did they have the Leicester result to go with it.
BBC pundit Alan Shearer hit the nail on the head last night, when he described England’s performance as
Inept, embarrassing, horrible, clueless.
The result led to an outburst of frustration from a multitude of fans, pundits and celebrities alike:
England: decent players, not great players. Poorly coached. Tactically inept. Every player perfectly confused. No belief in plan or system.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 28, 2016
Obviously Roy has to go but the players performance tonight barring Rashford was a disgrace. #ENGICL
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) June 27, 2016
From start to finish, England looked unimaginative, unorganised and lacking urgency. Every player massively underperformed: Joe Hart produced yet another blunder in goal to concede Iceland’s second goal; Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill at the heart of the defence were out-battled and lacked composure; the fullbacks Danny Rose and Kyle Walker looked tired; Eric Dier produced arguably the worst performance I’ve ever seen from him; Raheem Sterling produced yet another performance to question the £50 million that Manchester City spent on him last summer; and the forwards provided nothing in terms of movement going forward.
The tournament has been yet another disaster for England, especially as there was so much hope going into the tournament following an undefeated qualifying campaign, and a squad full of young players who seemed as if they would not be haunted by previous tournaments. However, the Iceland result was quite simply the cherry on the cake of what was quite frankly a catalogue of errors by England throughout the tournament. For starters, it’s now been proven that Hodgson got the selection wrong. Roy gave undeserved places to the likes of Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling over players such as Mark Noble, Danny Drinkwater and Michail Antonio who have proven their fitness and form all season. In addition, even by last nights Iceland game, it was clear that Hodgson still did not know what his best team or formation was, something that should have been nailed on months before the tournament even started. To top it off, England failed to demonstrate any form of tactical game plan or style during the tournament, failing to comprehensively beat any team, and lets be honest it’s not as if we were playing Germany or Italy: We failed to beat a poor Russia side, beat Wales just about in the last 10 seconds of the game and drew to an average Slovakia side. England at no point demonstrated that they possessed the cutting edge or defensive capabilities needed to be successful at a major tournament.
The list of issues tactically is endless, but what perhaps best sums it up is that our best goal scorer Harry Kane was taking free kicks and corners!
It was not even as if Iceland had to work hard to gain the victory last night either, England seemed to run out of ideas after the second goal for Iceland went in, the movement up front was absent and not until Marcus Rashford’s introduction in the 85th minute did anyone dare to try and run past a player. England quite honestly looked like a ‘Sunday league’ side, and looked as if they were trying to play Subuteo football throughout.
The defeat of course led to the immediate resignation of Roy Hodgson, and questions as to who will take over the reigns as England manager.
Roy Hodgson has reportedly suggested that his assisstant Gary Neville should take the role, however, the current bookies favourite is Under-21 manager Gareth Southgate following the sides success earlier this summer in Toulon tournament this summer. However, other names such as Alan Shearer, Eddie Howe, Arsene Wenger and Sam Allardyce have also already been linked to the vacant position. Going forward into the future however, it appears obvious that England need a drastic shake-up of their selection policy, and a manager who can bring back both tactical know-how and a more fearless spirit to the England national side.
One final fun fact to leave you with: one of Iceland’s two managers is a part-time dentist.