What is it about the English and their fans that makes it so enjoyable to watch them fail? Could it be the insufferable ‘we have the best league’ mantra they continuously berate us with? Is it the fact that every tournament they enter their media triumphs their cause as potential winners even if it defies logic? Or is it as simple as, we all like to see the big guy who thinks he is all that get knocked off his perch? Whatever it is, it was bloodly brilliant to witness England collapse once again.
Where did it all go wrong? England fans would have woken up on Monday with the knowledge that a win against Iceland would see them move on to face a France team who despite being at home have disappointed in regards to performances. You would have been hard pressed to find an England fan who wasn’t confident of a semi-final birth. Yet the end result is the same, humiliation and a dressing down of hilarious proportions.
The benefit of hindsight is beautiful but if we are honest, the writing was on the wall from before England touched down in France. There seemed to be genuine confusion about what Roy Hodgson’s best team was and how they would approach the game tactically. Whether 4-4-2 diamond, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, Rooney up top or in midfield or Harry Kane or Jamie Vardy to start, England didn’t seem convinced on what approach to take weeks before commencement. Contrast that with an Italian team, who possess little quality, who have a clear philosophy and system that has seen them advance to the quarter finals when many doubted them. The benefits of clear planning.
Against Iceland any previous cracks that were papered over were left well and truly exposed. Within four minutes England were ahead after Wayne Rooney converted a penalty won by Raheem Sterling. That was to be the last meaningful contribution to the game from both men. Thirty four seconds after the restart, 1-1 and ‘same old England’ started creeping into the back of everyone’s mind. Twelve minutes later – 2-1 to Iceland – and the game was effectively out of England’s reach.
England were lethargic, unimaginative and rarely tested a resolute Iceland team. Wayne ‘the new Scholes’ Rooney confirmed that he does not possess the ability to consistently impress in midfield. England’s leader put on a performance of over-hit diagonals, erratic passing, and unnecessary losses of possession that his teammates did their best to follow. Up front, the likes of Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Vardy put in the types of performances that had many questioning why the English strike force was heralded by its fans and media as one to fear. Contrast to an Iceland team who not only possessed the fight to derail England but the composure on the ball when in possession. To put it bluntly, England were as soft as puppy droppings.
Inevitably the question is now what is to come next for England following their latest serving of humble pie. It didn’t take long for Roy to do the decent thing and fall on his sword so we know England will be under new management soon. Do we have any faith in the English FA to install someone who will be able to transform the England team into a team worth the hype by time the World Cup comes around? Probably not.