Embarrassing. A word that perfectly sums up every aspect of England’s performance in their 1-2 defeat to Iceland.
Harry Kane is still on set-pieces, and he’s still awful at them. Wayne Rooney can no longer control a football. No one in the entire starting eleven can pass a ball to a player standing five yards away from them.
In fact, the only player who really came away from the match feeling as if they did as well as they could have, was 18 year old Marcus Rashford. And the fact that Roy Hodgson turned to him, a man without a full professional season under his belt, with 2 minutes to go and expecting him to turn things around – that says a lot.
Hodgson however, who, as expected, resigned after the match ended, cannot be the man to blame when his team of professionals can’t pass a ball to each other.
Yes, he clearly hasn’t done well as England manager, and yes, he needs to go, but for the way the team played, he is not the one that deserves to be responsible for the truly awful performance on show.
Still, we do need to congratulate Iceland, who have been, deeply contrasting with England, consistently marvellous throughout the tournament, even if Cristiano Ronaldo does say they have a small mentality.
Whilst being a predominantly defensive side, they have scored in all four of their matches so far, and they showed real character to come from behind, scoring two goals after Wayne Rooney’s penalty put England in front.
For a nation of around 300,000 people, it is quite some achievement to be doing so well, and it is clear that their improvement in youth development facilities in recent decades has paid dividends.
Still, no matter how well Iceland played, England, quite simply, should have won the match.
As for potential new managers, the choices seem less than inspiring.
Under 21 manager Gareth Southgate is currently favourite, whilst other options consist of the likes of inexperienced Eddie Howe, ageing and foreign Arsene Wenger, and Alan Pardew, who just doesn’t seem like the answer in any way.
The future of England clearly doesn’t look bright, although the players we have are still young, and this tournament will no doubt be a vital experience in their careers.
Unlike Argentina, who look like they’re going to almost completely replace their entire squad after Copa America defeat, the Three Lions are pretty much stuck with the players currently at their disposal.
Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is hard to tell. Obviously, they haven’t performed well at international level so far. On the bright side, for their respective clubs, the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli have looked fantastic, so the question is simply how do we convert their club form into national form?
Whether or not the next manager is able to do that could be huge, so we’ll have to wait and see. Will England finally, at long long last, be able to perform at a major tournament? The 2018 World Cup in Russia seems unrealistic, but Euro 2020, where Wembley stadium will host the final, has to be the target.