England's Euro 2016: Hodgson, Youth and Jack Wilshere.
"The team in Nice is one of the most inexperienced England teams to ever go to a senior international tournament"
There has been a lot of talk about England's dismal performance against Iceland, and the 2-1 result is seen as the most embarrassing result since the defeat to the USA at the World Cup in 1950. Roy Hodgson has to take responsibility for the lack of creativity, tactical impotence, and passionless performance. However Hodgson was right to say he was worried about the repercussions for the players involved as he felt they might be castigated for what happened against Iceland.
He has a point. The eleven that started that game in Nice was one of the most inexperienced England teams to start a senior international tournament and the honours won between them is probably the lowest of any modern England side. Yes they are young and hungry for success, but this was never going to be their year as a lack of experience was always going to bite them in the arse. Did Hodgson pick too many inexperienced players? Well there is an argument that could be true.Dele Alli (20 years old) has completed one season in the Premier League, Dier (22) has had two. Rose and Walker had a fantastic season with Spurs and prior to the end of the season both players were not guaranteed a place in the squad. Once they got to France, they became starters all of a sudden.
Although Kane (still only 22) had a couple of great season's he has only played top flight football consistently for three years, he was only capped for England 12 months ago and now he looked as important to England as Ronaldo is to Portugal, free-kicks and all! Tottenham's title challange vanished due to inexperience and this has been carried into the England squad, amoungst others. Jamie Vardy, seen as the 'saviour' against Wales and during Euro 2016 when Kane was playing badly was another player who only has two years in the top flight. The rest of his career has been played out in the lower divisions including non-league. Is this the best England can produce, someone who was playing at Fleetwood Town in the run up to Euro 2012? Marcus Rashford's inclusion should also been questioned. Your either going to take someone that young to start him like Michael Owen at 1998 World Cup, or do a Theo Walcott at World Cup 2006. It felt like more of the latter. Not having English strikers playing regularly as the main attacking threat at 'traditional top four clubs' has cost the national squad. Three of England's five strikers have never played Champions League football, or in an international tournament.
Before the Euro’s many were criticising the England manager for selecting Jack Wilshere, a player who has for years threatened to be a class act but ultimately, is about as useful as a paper umbrella. Last season he managed to appear in Arsenal’s last three games and this was enough for Hodgson to select him for the Euro’s. In fact Hodgson’s fascination with Wilshere is clear when you see that in the last 12 months he has appeared nine times for England and started one game with Arsenal. In all fairness Wilshere has been very unlucky as he has had a major injury in almost every season of his professional career, many pointed out the he had been man of the match in 6 of England’s qualifiers and used this statistic as a basis as to why he deserved to be in the squad. This, for the record, was untrue and taken from a tweet by Arsenal teammate Hector Bellerin. The actual number was once, against Slovenia when he scored two goals. The only two of his 6 year England career.
"Jack Wilshere, a player who has for years threatened to be a class act but ultimately, is about as useful as a paper umbrella."
Roy Hodgson’s insistence in using the crocked player at any given opportunity cost him. Looking back now Danny Drinkwater and Mark Noble would have been a much better selection in that midfield as Wilshere failed to show the world what exactly he is good at (Henderson went to the Euro’s not at 100% either). I am a big fan of Eric Dier, and he deserved to be part of the squad, but Noble or Drinkwater by his side helping him play in a position he has only been familiar with over the past 10 months would have aided the Spurs midfielder. Experience is vital, very rarely does a young side become successful, so seasoned pros like those could have been invaluable.
Ultimately the issue here was tactics and poor management of a young side. Harry Kane taking set pieces when he doesn’t do the same with Spurs, inconsistencies with formations that the players looked uncomfortable with, making 6 changes in the final group game and still performing badly, worst of all was playing Wayne Rooney, England’s all-time top scorer in a holding role in midfield. Holding role. Midfield. That to me says it all and the team suffered.
"...poor management of a young side. Harry Kane taking set pieces when he doesn’t do the same with Spurs"
Roy needs to take a leaf out of a German or Spanish book of football. When Germany played the World Cup final against Argentina in 2014 they used 5 players from Bayern Munich, in Euro 2012 final Spain had 5 Barcelona players in the first eleven, and in 2010 World Cup final they played 7 Barcelona players and played to a style similar to Bayern or Barcelona respectively. All were played in the same position as they did with their clubs, England on the other hand were all over the place. With so many players from Tottenham and Liverpool in the squad it would have been an idea to steer his tactics towards the direction of Pochettino or Klopp. Both clubs play similarly in terms of formation, using wing backs and high pressing. I am not saying this is a sure fire way to success, I mean come on, those Spanish and German players were the best in the world, but Roy could have used tactics familiar to his players. Their performances may well have been better.
There was nothing even close to seeing tactical awareness while watching England, and at the end of the day you could spend hours dissecting every problem with the team but it all comes down to who’s selecting the side and application of tactics. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hodgson leaving his position as national team manager can only improve the Three Lions. As long as the FA doesn't screw it up again.