Monday, 27 June 2016

England went to Iceland and got more than they bargained for

ENGLAND’s defeat to Iceland meant an early, and deserved, departure from the European Championships.

To pretend this has been a good tournament for our national side both on and off the pitch would be like telling yourself England will win a trophy in the next decade.

Whereas Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have provided many memories and created a real buzz off the field with their friendly behaviour, England have bored their way through the tournament with a small minority causing chaos.

The thing is, as England fans, we have watched this boxset before. Again we have exited  a tournament early, again the manager has gone leaving English football in ‘crisis’.

But what really annoys me is the empty platitudes from the players. All we heard was how ‘gutted’ they were etc. The thing is we hear this every tournament now, we qualify then fail on the big stage.

I backed Hodgson hugely, the only man for the job after Capello left. I backed him until ¾ of the way through the Russia game when he removed Wayne Rooney when we were 1-0 up against a tired Russian team whose centre half was on a yellow card. He protected a lead when all logic dictated pushing on for a second goal.

His selections were always open to question, picking Jack Wilshere for the tournament despite him only being fit since April was baffling.

But forget the errors, forget the individuals. Quite simply England lost last night because Iceland wanted it more. And there is the rub, all of the England squad have huge contracts and have ‘made it’ with their clubs. Many in the Icelandic side have grafted and battled to earn a playing deal outside their homeland and are showing that effort as a team in this tournament.

What now? The same old, same old, we are in crisis, we will appoint a new manager, there will be a new dawn and then inevitably failure either at the 2018 World Cup or 2020 Euros.  

I’m 34 and apart from Italia 90 and Euro 96 I have only known failure as an England fan, usually on penalties, as I write I can’t honestly say I am willing to continue to support the team.

I wonder how many more like me feel the same today?

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