The Man Times called this debacle a long time ago, as far back as when FA Chairman Greg Dyke was piecing together his now infamous Panel to see England win the 2020 World cup. We’ve also spoken, largely through our love for Bournemouth and their incredible debut season in the Premier League about the importance of identity when it comes to establishing a successful football team.
England under Hodgson have, to be generous always struggled to find their identity, Chopping and changing between different systems and while dominating play always doing so without any genuine penetrative threat. England walked their qualification group but generally, McLaren’s epic mess up aside they always tend to but they always looked like a team short of a genuine plan when it comes to tournament football.
What makes teams great at an international level? Spain, Italy and Germany all definitely understand it, Iceland crucially understand it believe it or not. With each of the aforementioned teams you know exactly what you’re going to get, they can chop it, change it and switch personnel but fundamentally when you look at them, when you watch them play you know who they are. Spain are a team on the wane, don’t get me wrong the talent coming into the team is simply not up to the standard of their greatest achievements of the last decade, Germany Similarly are good for the occasional rick in friendly games but when the times comes to turn on the faucet they do so and do so well.
England need to find an identity, I read many a comment criticising England’s lack of technique, which I take issue with. They can do all this at club level, it’s in the international arena where they fail to bring their talents to the fore, what this tends to indicate is that there isn’t anything in place to allow them to express themselves as footballers or a framework in which they can develop.
There were issues with the squad, while many in the press were happy with taking the likes of Jack Wilshire we at TMT were less than thrilled. Jack Wilshire was a very good footballer, he could dominate games and dictate tempo like few other English players before him. All of that comes with a note of the past tense with 2 years out of the game and to almost no football under his belt going into the tournament we don’t know what Jack Wilshire is anymore and taking him to a tournament to try and explore that was a waste of a space in the squad. Similarly, I get the feeling that Ross Barkley could have been the man to help undo some of these defences but if Roy wasn’t going to ever put him on the field why even bother selecting him. Similarly, Marcus Rashford who was England’s only bright spark in this should have seen more of the pitch, giving him 10 minutes against Iceland seemed hardly sufficient time to give him a chance to open the door something he looked immediately capable of.
Can we have an aside at this point. Many said Hodgson resigned with dignity in his press conference. Shunning scathing questions from the baying press, reading either a hastily prepared or more worryingly pre-prepared statement is tantamount to cowardice and doesn’t carry with it a shred of dignity particularly in light of what has occurred in the evening prior to his exit.
There are far more eloquent people than I who have spoken on England’s exit from the Euro 2016 but almost all to a man are looking at Roy Hodgon’s replacement.
STOP RIGHT THERE!!
Whack a caretaker in for the short term because here’s a news flash.
ENGLAND NEED A PROPER PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR OR DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL
Before we start replacing the man in charge of England’s national team, we need to put in place a structure throughout all levels of the England team about what we want to be as a footballing nation. Let’s put somebody at the top of the game responsible for establishing England’s footballing identity and appointing coaches and managers at all levels suited to delivering the philosophy they decide we should have. There’s no point in Southgate’s Under 21’s having success playing in one way if the Senior team are busy messing up playing an entirely different way. Let’s establish a continuity, a genuine development path for players and the national team with someone in charge of ensuring its delivery.
There’s no point hiring a new manager until we decide who and what we want to be as a footballing nation, then we can hire the right guy for the job, regardless of where they’re from. They can then mirror that approach at all levels of the England team. This sort of idea is not new, particularly at a club level or even at international level for some nations, but for the FA this is a seismic shift. Trevor Brooking the FA’s previous director of football wasn’t charged with this level of detail, nor was he tasked with such an ideological mission to go with its technical position. This is an unprecedented role for the FA but establishing this before rushing head long into hiring a new manager would set the course England could steer for the next decade or more. After all isn’t that what England has needed for so long? A course to steer? A direction?