Well, well, well… Shoot learned A LOT about the England national team this evening following their crushing EURO 2016 exit to the hands of minnows Iceland. But somehow; and rather painfully, we have managed to cram the Three Lions’ issues down to just five points…
1. Raheem Sterling’s gamble DID NOT pay off
The 21-year-old had a huge point to prove tonight, but he did not simply live up to the belief national team coach Roy Hodgson showed in him.
Undoubtedly; the majority of England fans would have easily left Sterling out of the starting XI given his Group B performances, so why did Hodgson see this specific selection decision any different?
Sterling was already low on confidence and form, surely Adam Lallana was the wiser choice to try and help breakdown Iceland.
The winger, who cost Manchester City a colossal £49m from Liverpool, was a huge gamble to start in Nice – in a match that England had to win at all costs, with Hodgson’s head at stake.
Sterling was hauled off after 60 minutes, for Jamie Vardy, after Icelandic right-back Birkir Mar Saevarsson did brilliantly against the forward from a defensive aspect, reducing the Jamaica-born star to nothing more than a few advancing runs towards the corner flag.
But it wasn’t just Sterling who thoroughly disappointed in Nice, fellow forwards Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane also endured dire displays.
2. Joe Hart’s stature as England’s number one could be over
Hart’s grasp as England’s automatic number one goalkeeper is gradually slipping away after another error-prone performance inside the Allianz Riviera.
After failing to keep out Gareth Bale’s savable free-kick against Wales back in Group B, the Manchester City shot stopper let another shot squirm under his body as Iceland shocked England to take the lead after 18 minutes – a mistake that eventually proved to be the ultimate blow come the final whistle.
The ball dropped to Kolbeinn Sigthorsson on the edge of the area, before his low shot crept under the 29-year-old to leave Hodgson’s men shell-shocked before the interval.
After another unconvincing display between the sticks, surely Southampton’s Fraser Forster should be considered as England’s new number one when the Three Lions resume their competitive duty for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
3. Roy Hodgson is done and dusted
The 68-year-old’s reign as England boss is over after Monday night’s embarrassing defeat. Hodgson has already announced his resignation, with his current contract due to expire after this summer’s finals in France anyway.
Appointed as national team manager back in May 2012; after succeeding Fabio Capello, the Three Lions haven’t progressed significantly under the former West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool head coach – leaving Hodgson defenceless after four years in the hot seat.
We were knocked out on penalties in the quarter-finals of EURO 2012 to Italy, before going winless in Brazil two years later during the 2014 World Cup as England bowed out of the group stages.
Now after drawing twice in Group B this summer to reach the last-16 of EURO 2016, the Three Lions were over roared by minnows Iceland – who don’t even boast a single professional football team or division in their country.
England’s Under-21 manager Gareth Southgate is the early favourite to succeed Hodgson.
4. England still can’t break down defensive nations
After frustrating stalemates to Russia (1-1) and Slovakia (0-0) during the group stages, Iceland provided England with another chance to prove that they DO have enough quality to overcome teams who sit back, defend and hit their opponents on the counter-attack.
An imperative attribute to have if any country is to dig deep and fight until the very latter stages of any international tournament.
But did they grab that opportunity with both hands? Not in the slightest.
After taking the lead in Nice inside just four minutes through Rooney’s spot-kick, everyone was optimistic after the Three Lions had pulled off what looked like the perfect start to their Round of 16 tie. At least that’s what everyone thought they were celebrating…
But just 34 seconds after the restart, Hodgson’s men were left stunned and unstuck as Ragnar Sigurdsson levelled for Iceland.
Despite appearances from forwards Kane, Rooney, Vardy, Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford on the night; the Premier League quintet somehow couldn’t beat Hannes Thor Halldorsson a second time in the remaining 84 minutes – in which Kolbeinn Sigthorsson found the eventual winner.
Russia, Slovakia and now Iceland. It proved to be third time [un]lucky for England. But this time, they were out for good.
5. Fifty-years and counting…
It is 50 years since England won their first-ever, and only, major tournament win to date after the Three Lions defeated West Germany 4-2 to lift the 1966 World Cup after Sir Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick heroics.
And after this nation’s depressing EURO 2016 campaign, the wait for another tournament triumph goes on, and there is no evidence to suggest this statistic it will be halted anytime soon!
Hodgson believes he leaves behind a set of “hungry, young and driven” players, but time will only tell whether England have enough quality to challenge any of the world’s elite at the 2018 World Cup in Russia – that is if the Three Lions even qualify!