Why Do England Underperform At Major Tournaments
So another tournament goes by and another abject failure for the England team, just as it was at the last World Cup in 2014 and the World Cup before that under Fabio Capello. In fact these poor performances at major tournaments have been going on for the last 50 years since 1966 when we won the World Cup on home turf.
There were two notable exceptions, particularly the 1990 World Cup in Italy when we came within a whisker of beating Germany in the semi finals (losing out in the penalty shoot out naturally). And there was also Euro 96 which was held in England, where again we lost out on penalties to the Germans in the semi final.
In 50 years, for a major football nation, indeed the cradle of football that introduced the game to the world, that just isn`t good enough. So what is the problem?
Firstly I don`t believe that this squad, and some of the other squads in the past, are not good enough because they are and they were. They play at the highest level and have a great deal of technical ability.
Looking at Euro 2016, there were three glaring issues which stood out and prevented us from beating even Iceland, Russia and Slovakia.
- The manager. Roy Hodgson completely blew the preparation of the team before the finals by changing systems and players at the last minute, so that nobody knew where they stood before the tournament began. He never conveyed any authority and was too soft on certain supposed stars like Wayne Rooney.
- At the tournament itself too many players under performed to the point of total ineptitude. You could have put your money on Raheem Sterling having a bad time of it (why he played is a mystery) but for Harry Kane to play so devoid of confidence and form was baffling, likewise Rooney totally going to pieces against Iceland in the fateful game. Was this due to having no belief in the manager, was it because he was changing the team and the system each game, or did they just freeze? I would think it was a combination of these factors.
- Lack of leadership. There was a distinct lack of this running through the England team, there was nobody who stood up to be counted or grabbed other players by the lapels and shouted in their face to pull their fingers out. Oh for a Tony Adams, a John Terry, a John Butcher, an Alan Shearer or a Bryan Robson!
And looking at previous tournaments I believe it has been a combination of bad management, bad luck, injuries and poor tactical planning. We need to get the right coach in who finds a system to accommodate the players available, sticks to that system so the players are comfortable and confident in it, and sprinkle the team with 2 or 3 leaders who won`t lie down when the going gets tough.
I would also practice plenty of penalties!!!!