Friday 21 October 2016

England fail because of bad management and headless players

England boss Roy Hodgson and assistant Gary Neville got it wrong in Nice. Picture credit: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
England boss Roy Hodgson and assistant Gary Neville got it wrong in Nice. Picture credit: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Truly awful management and headless, gutless players. That's the unhealthy combination which led to England's humiliating exit from Euro 2016.

It's an old story and entirely predictable. They do it at almost every tournament.

Roy Hodgson was sacked by Liverpool just before he was appointed as England coach.

In the run-up to the tournament, he had plenty of supporters who felt he should continue after France and into the qualifying for Russia 2018.

His time as England coach ended in disaster and threw them back to 1950 when the USA, a team of lads rounded up and given passports, beat them and made them a laughing stock.

He failed in the fundamental rule of picking his best team, with his best players in their best positions.

It is incredible to think that in the days after the win over Wales, Hodgson was being celebrated as some kind of tactical wizard for his substitutions.


England were outplayed by Iceland, on and off the pitch. Lars Lagerback is a great manager who has moulded a team that will trouble France too.

Lagerback will review what Ireland did to France for 60 minutes in Lyon and he will also note that sloppy defending cost Martin O'Neill's team badly and gave France all the momentum in the game.

There were some mitigating circumstances like the extra rest time France enjoyed which didn't help but the main issue was bad defending.

Iceland defend very well and yet, I would have given Ireland a great chance of making a semi-final if they could have held out or scored again before France had their moments.

A common component of both nations is heart. I've always said that Irish players come with that quality as a given and you could see it in Michael O'Neill's lads and the Welsh, another well-organised team showing clear signs of good management.

Just look at the way Antonio Conte has managed Italy, a squad scorned as the worst ever to come to a tournament, to some big wins.

I would agree he has limited players compared to great managers in the past but that makes the wins over Belgium and Spain all the more admirable and significant.

I really think that this side can go all the way and that will be down to Conte if it happens.

I'm not saying you don't need footballers with great talent. You can never have enough of them and the more the merrier.

But if good players are poorly managed, they can easily become bad players. If good players are not picked at all, they can't influence a game.

Someone asked a question about how Roy Keane would have reacted as captain in that England dressing room at half-time and I agreed, it would been worth paying a few quid to see.

But I pointed out that Roy Keane might not have been picked by Hodgson.

That's how much of a shambles the entire England set-up has become and I won't even mention Gary Neville and his little trial run in Valencia.

Neville was fast-tracked to sit beside Hodgson as his natural successor. The mind really boggles.

I see that Alan Shearer, who has a month's management experience and thousands of hours media work behind him has put himself forward for the job.

Don't rule it out. The English national team works in an environment where nothing ever seems to happen for the right reasons.

The other name attracting punters money is Gareth Southgate, a mild and inoffensive man with all the badges, the right media profile and some time spent coaching kids.

Or they might reach out again like they did with Fabio Capello for someone like Carlo Ancelotti and watch the English media fillet and then roast him over a high heat.

Maybe Sam Allardyce will finally get his wish. He's high up the betting as the man to put things right.

Don't rule it out. Anything is possible.

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