For the second time in a week England decided they didn't want to be part of Europe. The first time was decided by a democratic majority vote, last night we exited with an embarrassing, shambolic and simply unacceptable performance as Roy Hodgson and his team were beaten 2-1 by Iceland, the smallest nation at Euro 2016. I have previously said I will try to remain positive when writing this blog, but that is well and truly out the window on this occasion, my aim today is to get through this one without swearing.....

Hodgson resigned as England boss immediately after the game, in a case of jumping before he was pushed, without facing a question from the waiting media, and the speculation is already rife as to who will be next to take charge of a team that have once again failed to live up to the minimum expectations at a major tournament. One thing is for sure, we need a man who has more than one plan going into games, and somebody who can react to in game situations instead of looking dumbstruck on the sidelines. It's never been an easy job, but some of the decisions Hodgson made, especially last night, ask serious questions of his ability to fulfill the role. 

Team selection was the first point of confusion for many England fans, with Raheem Sterling being recalled despite not performing at all during this tournament, and Daniel Sturridge was employed as a right forward in place of Adam Lallana, who was arguably one of our best players in the first 3 games. Hindsight is wonderful but I also question the need for Dier, Cahill, Smalling AND Rooney to play in defence and midfield against a team who's attacking threat was basic at best. I'd have liked to have seen John Stones play, as a center half who can play football going forward, and Ross Barkley in midfield for his directness, energy and willingness to score goals. Barkley didn't play a single minute in the tournament, which makes you wonder why he was on the plane in the first place if Roy doesn't fancy him as a starter or an impact substitute.

Ironically England got off to the perfect start, Sturridge picked out Sterling with a wonderful through ball, which Sterling let run across his body before darting past the Icelandic keeper who brought him down for a penalty just 3 minutes into the game. Wayne Rooney, celebrating his 115th cap - the joint most by any England outfield player with David Beckham - stepped up and neatly dispatched the spot kick. 1-0 after 4 minutes, you'd have expected the flood gates to open and England to kick on and book a quarter final date with the hosts France on Sunday but that was not to be. Just 2 minutes later Iceland were level with the most basic of goals. A long throw was chucked in from the right, flicked on at the edge of the box and finished by Ragnar Sigurdsson inside the 6 yard box. Rooney and Kyle Walker were culpable, with neither tracking their man properly. It's the type of goal Sunday league footballers would be annoyed to concede, never mind elite premier league players. 

England didn't actually react too badly, as they seemed to not panic and start to play again, however there was a distinct lack of any threat to Hannes Thor Halldorsson in the Icelandic goal, a common theme for England in these championships, but things were to go from bad to worse. Iceland were allowed far too much time and space to play their way to the edge of the box by an England team who had no interest in pressing the ball, and even less interest in communicating with each other as Kolbeinn Sigthorsson squeezed a shot off that should have been saved by Joe Hart in goal but he was on it too late, and could only get a hand on top of the ball as it squirmed through and rolled into the back of the net. It was a disaster for Hart and for England, but with only 18 minutes on the clock there was more than enough time to rectify the situation and save not only the game but also their reputations. As it turned out Iceland had already done enough, as England had no idea how to go about turning the game around, and were to go on to produce the worst performance I have ever seen by any England team, and to suffer possibly the most embarrassing defeat in their history.

I'm not going to talk about the few chances England had after going behind, because Iceland had just as many clear cut chances, maybe more. Instead the focus is on the manager, who, being the highest paid at the tournament should have had enough experience and know how to change the pattern of the game, but he seemed to have absolutely no clue. Unlike the first 3 games in this tournament, where you can argue England dominated the game, created more chances and were unlucky to have only won 1 of those matches, there is and was no defence for the performance the players produced last night. Roy's first change was at half time, when he brought on Jack Wilshere for Eric Dier. Wilshere had been awful and hooked after 60 minutes against Slovakia, and has hardly kicked a ball all season for Arsenal due to injury, so why would he be the man to change the game? Ross Barkley has had his best season ever in his young Everton career, and Adam Lallana has been a great link between midfield and forwards so far at this tournament, yet they both stayed sat on the England bench. His next change was to bring on Jamie Vardy for Raheem Sterling - fair enough but probably too late. Vardy has been in blistering form and fired his Leicester team to an unbelievable Premier league win, but was judged not needed from the start against a defence you would expect him to run ragged against. 

The last substitution for me was the most frustrating, Wayne Rooney was replaced by his Manchester United teammate Marcus Rashford, with 5, yes that's 5 minutes left on the clock. We turned to an 18 year old who hadn't played a professional match until this year, and expected him to save us from a situation we'd been in for over an hour. What makes this worse is that Rashford was in my opinion our best player, he made 2 runs down the left, one of which resulted in a corner that he took himself, albeit poorly, but it proved that Iceland weren't able to cope with a player running at them as they struggled with his pace and directness. We should have been gung-ho from at least the half time mark, but with a naturally conservative manager we instead tried to slowly move the ball around the pitch in front of the Iceland defence, with our center halves seeing more of the ball than any of our forward players. There was a huge lack of responsibility on the pitch as nobody wanted or demanded the ball, instead they all looked like they were waiting for somebody else to do something special to get them out of the mess they were in. For me that stems from a lack of belief by the manager and and lack of freedom given to creative players to go and express themselves. It also shows that we don't have a cohesive unit with the type of togetherness you see from Italy, Germany and even Iceland themselves, teams who are there for each other and communicate from start to finish.

What I won't blame is a lack of 'passion' or mention the amount of money these players earn, because they are easy things to say and I don't believe they are true. 10 wins out of 10 in qualifying isn't achieved by a team who doesn't want to wear the shirt. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are 2 of the highest paid footballers in the world but they have both produced when it matters for their respective countries. Also, when Ronaldo kicked and shouted as his teammates made mistakes, he was called petulant not passionate. It's not about who shouts loudest or who runs furthest, its about turning up when it matters and carrying out the correct game plan, it's about not being scared to be the one who takes the chance or the responsibility. We have a distinct lack of natural leaders on the field, and the lack of a manager on the sidelines who is willing to take risks to win matches. There has to be a plan B, and the correct personnel need to be in the squad and utilised when the situation out on the pitch changes. We don't need a winter break and we don't need an upheaval in grass roots football, we need a manager and coaches that have more than one idea on how to play football, and who are fearless when it comes to the big tournaments.  

There is no need for a witch-hunt against Hodgson, as the game is lost, England are out of the tournament and he has already resigned. What is imperative is that the next appointment is the right one, and that we find a way to get the best out of our players at this level.  The players have a lot of work to do, as was the case after the World Cup failure of 2014, but there are only so many times we can look to the 'next one'. There will be no forgetting of this result, but it needs to serve as a lesson and a turning point for the FA, as 6 wins in knock-out football since 1966 is just not good enough. If we didn't have the ability to do well, and if qualifying for these tournaments was an achievement then it would be a different story, but from close calls in 1990 and 1996, through the 'golden generation' and up until now, we have the players to have reached at least the semi finals at more than one tournament but there is a constant failure to produce when it really matters. I don't like the phrase 'typical England' when we go home early, but right now it seems justified. Whatever happens next we need to get behind the next manager, the players need to earn the right to pull on the England shirt again and we need to make sure that we quality for the 2018 World Cup for a chance to redeem ourselves.

However there is plenty of football left in the Euros, and Iceland's reward for their historic win is a quarter final against France on Sunday. The full quarter final line up is as follows:

Poland vs Portugal - Thursday 30th June - 20:00

Wales vs Belgium - Friday 1st July - 20:00

Germany vs Italy - Saturday 2nd July - 20:00

France vs Iceland - Sunday 3rd July - 20:00

Personally I will be cheering on Antonio Conte's Italy team, as they are showing that, despite their lack of superstar players a team who works hard for each other can go far. The Germans are obviously a huge player in these championships though, and rightly the favourites to go on and win the trophy.  Wales have a punchers chance against Belgium and it would be a special achievement for them if they can go at least another step further. Poland and Portugal are both yet to show their best so that should prove an intriguing encounter. My prediction of a semi final place for England has indeed proved far too optimistic and ambitious, but if I am as hopeful and optimistic going into the next tournament then the new manager will have done a miraculous job indeed. 

I'm aware I'm adding to the mass of criticism that is being levelled at the England team and staff at the moment, but unfortunately its deserved this time around. I will finish on a well done to Iceland on reaching the quarter finals in their first ever competitive tournament, and who's fans especially have been a great addition to this tournament.

When is it the Premier League season starts again?

Published by Kevin Howley