England was eliminated in the first knockout round of EURO 2016 and there are many reasons behind that debacle.
England’s style of playing in France went through major changes even within the span of one match – in almost every match there were huge oscillations, but they qualified for the knockout phase and got lucky, since Iceland was their opponent for that day. Or they just thought so.
Although they took the lead at the very beginning of the match, the mix of their laid back approach and the tactics which weren’t good enough produced another big failure for England in continental championship.
England came to France with big ambitions, there is no doubt about that. Many players rose to prominence in the previous season and they hoped this new, a clearly very talented generation of players, led by Harry Kane, will finally put England among the favorites for the major trophies. However, they faced another disaster and the debate about the reasons which led to it will be long and hard. Roy Hodgson already resigned, but the national team’s problems won’t vanish with him, that’s for sure.
First of all, England is not a team which deserves to be listed among the favorites of every major competition – they have only one World Cup title, which was very controversial and on the European championships they reached semifinals only twice. In most of the cases, they finish the competition in the group phase! They owe their status not to the fact they had a successful history, but to the fact the football history started with them, which is often forgotten. Also, England owes their status to Premier League, which is one of the best and most attractive leagues in the world.
One of the biggest problems is that they are unable to form the best possible team. Instead, they include the biggest stars in the squad and hope they will perform well together. And they usually don’t. In the recent history their players were made to play outside their position, just so the best “fantasy” squad can be on the field. For example, Gerrard and Lampard, who were clearly incompatible to one another, played together, while on the other hand, Italian coaches didn’t use both Del Piero and Totti together in most of the cases, although in my honest opinion it was easier to put them together than Gerrard and Lampard. There were even more extreme examples in the near past, such as Paul Scholes as a left winger, or Wayne Rooney as a defensive midfielder and Daniel Sturridge on the right flank on EURO 2016.
Roy Hodgson failed to form the best team out of the players he had. First of all, he didn’t call up several players who had an excellent season, but he called up Wilshere, who missed the entire season because of injury. Also, the formation he used was clearly not suitable to the squad, as Harry Kane struggled to make an impression as a lone striker, while Jaime Vardy mostly spent his time on the bench.
It will be a real pity if this talented generation perishes because of the choices Hodgson made in France. The next coach will have to be brave and take some risk when putting together his team. England should look to Italy, who made a huge success in France with the team which is far cheaper than England, with several players who are playing in mediocre Italian clubs. However, coach Antonio Konte clearly had a vision and had the courage to pick some of the players who are not as well known and he made a good result so far. If England manages to emulate that, they will maybe have a chance to do something great in the forthcoming tournaments.