As an England fan – I am one of the most optimistic there is. However, under Hodgson – a dodery old fool, it’s been hard to have anything to shout about. 10 wins from 10 in qualifying was no mean feat, but given Switzerland were the best team in there, it wasn’t all that. The team has an air of defensive frailty about it, which for me is an issue England have had for years. Yes, we beat Germany in a friendly – when it didn’t really matter – but looking at the bigger picture, this should be the end for the 68 year old, regardless of how Euro 2016 pans out.
Going forward – there are not a lot of options if you want an English manager. My pick, before being employed/sacked by Derby was Paul Clement – a very clever manager who is a lot better tactically than the current England manager. Even in his first managerial role, he was doing very well – winning or drawing most games, until he was sacked by Derby for ‘Not playing an attractive style of football’ – which in the Championship is rubbish as getting promoted is all that matters.
Back to Hogdson – he promised that he would pick on form and not take injury risks who are not fit. Fast-forward a few weeks and he has totally reneged on that – Sturridge, Henderson and Wilshere all go to France, while the form players in Andros Townsend and Danny Drinkwater stay at home – the former three all massive risks, with Sturridge missing long stints of the season and struggling with injury now – Wilshere having played all of 170 minutes of football this season for club, and Henderson just coming back from a long injury layoff.
Add in the fact that the likes of Wayne Rooney, James Milner and Ross Barkley have been average for 6 months or more – that means England have a potentially poor central midfield in amongst a tough group – Eric Dier and Delle Alli are the only ones that give us as fans any real confidence. There is also little width in the squad – an out of form Raheem Sterling the only wide player – and with Andros Townsend in scoring form for Newcastle, there was little reasoning behind not taking him. Vardy and Rashford can clearly play there but they usually play as strikers, so weather they would be fully comfortable there is another question.
His decision to take just 3 centre backs may also backfire – Chris Smalling has been good but makes mistakes fairly often. Jon Stones also looks like making costly errors at any point, while Gary Cahill isn’t fully fit after struggling with a hip problem. Eric Dier is the 4th option if desperate, and he scored a shocking own goal against Australia – possibly because he’s been playing in midfield for Spurs, so is unfamiliar and out of practice in said position.
In Danny Drinkwater he would have been taking a Premier League winning midfielder in excellent form. He was man of the match in a tough Holland game, and did more than Wilshere did in what little time he had on the pitch against Australia than Wilshere and Henderson put together. Michael Carrick would have been a great option too – experienced in big games and in good form. but no, Roy opts for two half fit players with no form behind them.
The one place we seem well stocked is the forward position – Vardy and Kane are the top two options, with Rooney likely to take a midfield role, while Sturridge is a question and Rashford is a quality youngster – how much time he will see is a question. The fullback roles are sorted and strong, while for goalkeepers we also look fine there.
It always seems that between major tournaments that England learn lessons – but once again, an ageing manager in potentially his last job has bottled what could have been a terrific squad and goes with the big names who are neither fit or performing, a move that has never worked out well for us – and could well cost us dearly yet again.